Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 13 March-19 March 2019
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 March-19 March 2019
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2019. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 March-19 March 2019. 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 each day during 13-19 March there were 43-175 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained ash. Crater incandescence was visible most nights. A short period of Strombolian activity commenced at 0500 on 13 March and lasted for 15 minutes, ejecting incandescent fragments onto the E and SE flanks. An explosion at 0510 generated an ash plume that rose 1.5 km above the crater rim and ejected incandescent material 1.7 km away and onto the ESE flank. An ash plume from an explosion at 0730 rose 3.5 km and drifted NE. An explosion at 1430 on 14 March generated a dense ash plume that rose 5 km and drifted NNE. During an overflight of the crater on 15 March observers noted that lava dome #82 was gone, and that the inner crater was 300 m wide and 130 m deep. Explosions at 0255 and 0930 on 16 March produced ash plumes that rose 2-2.5 km and drifted NNE. Explosions were detected at 2206, 2321, and 2325. Gas, steam, and ash plumes from an event at 2138 on 18 March rose 4 km and drifted E. Incandescent fragments were ejected 2.5 km onto the flanks and set fire to some grasslands. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (middle level on a three-color scale).
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.