Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 21 January-27 January 2009
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 January-27 January 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 21 January-27 January 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Based on analysis of satellite imagery, information from the Mexico City MWO, and views from the web camera operated by CENAPRED, the Washington VAAC reported that on 21 January an ash plume from Popocatépetl rose to an altitude of 7 km (23,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E and NE. A thermal anomaly was also detected. CENAPRED reported that during 21-27 January emissions of steam and gas were noted, and occasionally contained slight amounts of ash during 22-25 January. On 22 January, a small explosion produced an ash plume that rose to an altitude of 7.4 km (24,300 ft) a.s.l.
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.