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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 22 May-28 May 2013


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 22 May-28 May 2013
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2013. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 22 May-28 May 2013. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (22 May-28 May 2013)



19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that during 22-28 May seismicity at Popocatépetl indicated continuing gas-and-steam emissions that contained variable amounts of ash; cloud cover occasionally prevented observations, especially during 26-27 May. Incandescence from the crater was often observed at night.

On 22 May an ash plume rose 2 km above the crater and drifted NE. Periods of tremor were accompanied by emissions of steam, gas, and sometimes ash. Two plumes rose 1.3 km and drifted W. Overnight incandescent tephra was ejected 300 m above the crater and rolled down the flanks. Tremor amplitude increased on 23 May, and ash emissions drifted SE, S, and SW. An explosion at 0254 ejected large fragments that landed 1.5 km away from the crater. At 1240 an explosion generated a gas-and-ash plume that rose 2.5 km. Later that day tremor decreased; periods of tremor continued to be detected through 27 May, accompanied by emissions of steam, gas and variable amounts of ash that rose 500-900 m and drifted SW.

On 25 May incandescent tephra were ejected onto the highest parts of the N and NE flanks, and a gas-and-ash plume rose 2 km. An explosion at 0547 ejected incandescent tephra 1.5 km onto the NNE flank. An explosion at 1040 on 26 May generated an ash plume that rose 2 km. A small explosion was detected at 1228. On 28 May an explosion at 0503 produced an ash plume that rose more than 2 km and drifted SW, and ejected incandescent tephra 1.5 km onto the NE flank. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Three.

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.

Source: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)