Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 11 February-17 February 2015
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 February-17 February 2015
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2015. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 February-17 February 2015. 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 10-11 and 11-12 February the seismic network at Popocatépetl recorded 146 and 101 low-intensity events, respectively, accompanied by steam-and-gas emissions that sometimes contained minor amounts of ash. Explosions were also detected, likely from lava-dome growth. On 11 February ashfall was reported in Puebla (~50 km to the E) and in the municipalities of Juan C. Bonilla, Domingo Arenas, Huejotzingo (27 km NE), and at the airport to the E. Intermittent nighttime incandescence from the crater was visible during 11-12 February.
During 13-17 February seismicity indicated ongoing emissions, and incandescence from the crater was noted. A series of explosions between 0650 and 1200 on 15 February generated plumes that rose 1.8 km above the crater and drifted NE. Ash fell in Huejotzingo, Domingo Arenas, Salvador el Verde (30 km NNE), San Felipe Teotlalcingo (26 km NNE) , and Puebla. Explosions continued to be detected; nine were registered during 16-17 February. 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.