Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 27 March-2 April 2019
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 March-2 April 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, 27 March-2 April 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 26 March-2 April there were 27-200 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained ash. An explosion at 1923 on 26 March produced an ash plume that rose 3 km above the crater rim and drifted NE, and ejected incandescent fragments 2 km onto the flanks setting fire to pastures on the N and NE flanks. Ashfall was reported in municipalities of Puebla including Santa Cruz, Atlixco (23 km SE), San Pedro, San Andrés Cholula (35 km E), Santa Isabel (45 km ESE), and San Pedro Benito Juárez (10-12 km SE), and in municipalities of Morelos including Hueyapan (17 km SSW) and Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW). An explosion at 0650 on 28 March generated an ash plume that rose 2.5 km and drifted SE, and ejected fragments 1 km onto the flanks. Continuous gas-and-ash emissions were visible between 0538 and 0748. CENAPRED raised the Alert Level to Yellow, Phase Three (middle level on a three-color scale). An ash plume from an explosion at 1948 rose 3 km and drifted SE. Incandescent fragments were ejected 2 km onto the flanks. After that event gas-and-ash plumes rose from the crater until 2010. A period of Strombolian activity began at 0247 on 30 March and lasted for 14 minutes, generating ash plumes that rose 800 m and drifted SE. Incandescent ejecta fell onto the flanks 300 m below the crater rim. During an overflight scientists observed that the diameter of the inner crater had increased to 350 m, and that the crater floor was 250-300 m deep.
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.