Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 16 April-22 April 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
16 April-22 April 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 April-22 April 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
The ongoing eruption at Popocatépetl was punctuated by a small explosion on 17 April, an event accompanied by incandescent fragments that reached 1 km E along the summit crater=s outer margin, and a modest ash plume directed toward the NE. Associated with the event, low-amplitude tremor persisted for about 2 hours, but no other significant geophysical changes were seen. More typical low-intensity outbursts also continued during the week, typically at rates of ten=s per day. The alert level still stood at Yellow, and the mountain road across the N flank remained open.
Geological Summary. 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.