Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 3 December-9 December 2014
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 December-9 December 2014
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2014. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 December-9 December 2014. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
CENAPRED reported that during 3-9 December seismicity at Popocatépetl indicated continuing emissions of water vapor and gas, which occasionally contained ash during 6-9 December. Incandescence from the crater was visible each night. On 3 December an ash plume rose 800 m above the crater and drifted WSW. An explosion at 2154 was associated with crater incandescence. An ash plume rose 600 m, and explosions at 1056 and 2121 produced ash plumes that rose 800 m and drifted SW. Two ash plumes rose 400-600 m and drifted SW the next day. Explosions detected at 0544 and 0608 on 6 December produced plumes with low ash content that rose 800 m. At 1508 a small rockslide on the N flank was recorded by a webcam. An explosion at 0431 on 8 December ejected incandescent tephra onto the flanks and generated an ash plume that rose 3 km. Slight ashfall was reported in the municipality of Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW). Explosions were detected at 0917 and 0933 on 9 December. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two.
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.