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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 31 May-6 June 2023


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 May-6 June 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 31 May-6 June 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (31 May-6 June 2023)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that during 30 May-6 June activity at Popocatépetl consisted of seismic tremor, a few explosions, emissions of steam and gas, with occasional ash, and ejections of incandescent material. There were 67-315 daily steam-and-gas emissions, sometimes containing minor amounts of ash, with the highest number recorded during 30-31 May. Overall activity decreased during the week. Explosions at 1423 and 1708 on 30 May produced gray ash plumes. During 30-31 May incandescent material was ejected from the vent short distances onto the flank. High-frequency tremor was recorded by the seismic network for around eight and a half hours, and was associated with nearly continuous emissions of steam, gas, and ash. Ashfall was reported in Ayapeango (22 km NW) and Acatzingo (100 km W), in the State of Mexico. A M1.6 volcano tectonic (VT) earthquake was recorded at 0952 on 31 May. The Washington VAAC stated that although ash emissions continued to be visible in satellite and webcam images drifting SSE, the intensity of the emissions had decreased.

CENAPRED stated on 1 June that tremor signals had significantly decreased during the previous few days, and on 2 June that overall activity had also decreased. Periods of high-frequency, low-amplitude tremor continued to be detected during the rest of the week. A period of tremor recorded during 1635-1850 on 3 June was associated with diffuse ash emissions that drifted SE. According to the Washington VAAC ash plumes during 1-3 June rose 5.5-6.7 km (18,000-22,000 ft) a.s.l., or as high as 1.3 km above the summit, and drifted SW, SSW, and SE. A minor explosion occurred at 0739 on 4 June. A minor explosion occurred at 1211 on 5 June and a M1.2 VT earthquake was recorded at 1818. On 6 June the Alert Level was lowered to Yellow, Phase Two (the 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.

Sources: Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)