Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 10 June-16 June 2020
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 June-16 June 2020
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2020. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 June-16 June 2020. 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 10-16 June there were 145-302 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained minor amounts of ash. The plumes did not rise more than 1 km above the crater rim. An overflight was conducted on 13 June by the National Guard, Instituto de Geofísica de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and CENAPRED scientists. They noted that the inner crater was 350-380 m in diameter and 100-150 m deep; the crater floor was covered in tephra and the remains of a lava dome which had possibly been seen in May. At 1612 that same day a minor explosion was recorded, though an ash plume was not observed due to weather clouds. Incandescent material was ejected a short distance onto the flanks. Seven minor explosions were recorded on 15 June and again on 16 June. 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.