Logo link to homepage

Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 5 February-11 February 2003

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 5 February-11 February 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, 5 February-11 February 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (5 February-11 February 2003)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 4-10 February, several moderate-sized emissions at Popocatépetl sent ash plumes to a height of ~2 km. On 4 February at 0459 a moderate dome-destruction explosion ejected incandescent volcanic material that fell as far as ~2 km down the volcano's flanks. On 5 and 6 February similar sized emissions occurred that were accompanied by episodes of low-amplitude harmonic tremor for up to 3 hours. According to CENAPRED, due to the remains of a lava dome inside the crater, there remained a significant chance of further explosive activity, ash emissions, and incandescent ejections around the crater.

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.

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