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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 7 October-13 October 2020


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
7 October-13 October 2020
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2020. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 7 October-13 October 2020. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (7 October-13 October 2020)



19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that each day during 6-13 October there were 84-143 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, most of which contained minor amounts of ash. Gas-and-ash plumes drifted NE, WNW, W, and SSW. Minor ashfall was reported during 6-7 October in areas downwind including the municipality of Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW) in the State of Morelos, and the municipalities of Amecameca (20 km NW), Atlautla (17 km W), Ayapango (22 km NSW), and Ecatzingo (15 km SW) in the State of Mexico. Incandescence from the crater was observed during 11-12 October and occasionally intensified with some emissions. Ashfall was reported in Amecameca on 13 October. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (middle level on a three-color scale).

Geological Summary. Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, rises 70 km SE of Mexico City to form North America's 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 400 x 600 m wide crater. The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the sharp-peaked Ventorrillo on the NW, a remnant of an earlier volcano. At least three previous major cones were destroyed by gravitational failure during the Pleistocene, producing massive debris-avalanche deposits covering broad areas to the south. The modern volcano was constructed south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene El Fraile cone. Three major Plinian eruptions, the most recent of which took place about 800 CE, have occurred since the mid-Holocene, accompanied by pyroclastic flows and voluminous lahars that swept basins below the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions, first recorded in Aztec codices, have occurred since Pre-Columbian time.

Source: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)