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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — February 1995


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 2 (February 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Small ash cone observed in summit crater; plume rises 3 km

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199502-341090



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On the morning of 21 February at 1105, for the first time since eruptions began on 21 December 1994, Claus Siebe was able to look into the crater from a helicopter without fumes or ash impeding visibility. A small crater surrounded by a tuff cone composed of light-brown to gray silty-sandy ash occupied the site of the former lake. Judging from the color, he interpreted the loose ash to be mostly non-juvenile. A plume was emitted from a depression in the ash cone at 1115 and rose ~3 km above the crater rim. No snow has fallen in recent weeks, and all the snow and ice in the summit area was covered by a thin coat of ash.

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.

Information Contacts: Claus Siebe, Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM, Coyoacán.