Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 14 March-20 March 2001
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 March-20 March 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 March-20 March 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
According to CENAPRED, volcanic activity that was relatively high during 14-16 March began to diminish on 17 March. On 14 and 15 March there were many small exhalations of steam, ash, and gas, as well as episodes of harmonic tremor that totaled 1 hour. On 15 March a new lava dome ~200 m in diameter and 40 m high was observed at the volcano's summit. By 17 March fewer exhalations occurred than on previous days and harmonic tremor was only detected for a total of 15 minutes. The volcano remained at Alert Level Yellow Phase III, with a restricted 12-km-radius area.
Geologic Background. 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.