Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 27 August-2 September 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 August-2 September 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, 27 August-2 September 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Aerial photography taken on 25 August revealed no external lava dome in Popocatépetl crater. On 28 August the number of low-level emissions increased in comparison to previous days. On 29 August at 1330 a low-density ash emission rose to ~1.5 km above the crater and drifted W. There were no reports of ash fall in villages near the volcano. This event was accompanied by episodes of high-frequency and low-amplitude tremor. By 1 September the number of emissions returned to levels recorded prior to the increase.
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.