Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 15 January-21 January 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 January-21 January 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 January-21 January 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Volcanic activity continued at low-to-moderate levels at Popocatépetl during 15-20 January. Activity consisted of small-to-moderate emissions of steam, gas, and small amounts of ash, and sporadic episodes of low-amplitude harmonic tremor. On 9 January photographs of the lava dome revealed that the dome's inner crater had subsided.
The lava dome's volume was calculated to be approximately 500,000 m3. Explosive activity after the 15th was probably associated with the growth of a new lava dome. CENAPRED stated that in the next days moderate explosive activity, with ash and incandescent material emission, could occur.
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.