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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — April 1999


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 24, no. 4 (April 1999)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Continued sporadic eruptions visible on Doppler radar

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1999. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 24:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199904-341090



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During April 1999 the volcano returned to low levels of activity. Small sporadic exhalations occurred that occasionally carried sufficient ash to be visible on Doppler radar.

At 0031 on 2 April an A-type earthquake of M 2.1 occurred at a depth of 7.6 km centered 3 km NE of the crater. Small ash emissions were accompanied by gas and steam. On 3 April a fumarolic emission with some ash could be seen descending the NE slope.

A moderate explosion, lasting 40 seconds in its most intense phase, began at 0327 on 4 April. People in the town of San Andres Calpan, 20 km from the volcano, heard the explosion and observed incandescence over the crater. The incandescence was also recorded by CENAPRED video cameras, which showed that during the event incandescent material was ejected over the E flank. Doppler radar recorded an ash emission following the explosion. Activity soon returned to a more stable condition. At 1240 an A-type earthquake of M 2.4 occurred 8 km NE of the crater at 6.2 km depth, and at 0945 on 5 April an A-type earthquake with M 2.2 occurred 8.5 km NE of the summit at 6.6 km depth.

Monitors detected a moderate exhalation lasting 90 seconds beginning at 0031 on 11 April. This event was followed by six similar exhalations during the next 18 minutes. Doppler radar did not detect any significant ash emission, and no incandescence was observed in the crater. During 14-15 April small and medium exhalations with durations of 1-4 minutes were accompanied by vapor, gas, and some ash emissions. At 1056 a moderate explosion lasted ~4 minutes and produced a 3.5-km-high ash cloud that was transported NE.

Earthquakes were recorded near the volcano on 26 April. The first started at 0014 with M 2.2, located 9 km SE of the crater at a depth of 4.3 km. Another event occurred at 0954 with M 2.4 located 8 km SE of the crater at a depth of 3.4 km.

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: Servando De la Cruz-Reyna1,2, Roberto Quaas1,2; Carlos Valdés G.2, and Alicia Martinez Bringas1. 1 Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), Delfin Madrigal 665, Col. Pedregal de Santo Domingo, Coyoacán, 04360, México D.F. (URL: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/); 2Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM, Coyoacán 04510, México D.F., México.