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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 20 May-26 May 2015


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
20 May-26 May 2015
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2015. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 May-26 May 2015. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (20 May-26 May 2015)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that during 20-26 May the seismic network at Popocatépetl recorded 40-307 daily emissions consisting of water vapor, gas, and sometimes ash; cloud cover often prevented visual observations. Nighttime crater incandescence was noted every night; sometimes the incandescence would become more intense with accompanying emissions. A small explosion at 0023 on 21 May generated a plume with low ash content that rose 800 m and drifted SW. During 22-24 May ash plumes rose 0.5-2.5 km and drifted SW. Ashfall was reported in Ocuituco (24 km SW) on 22 May. From 1702 to 1955 on 25 May a series of explosions accompanied by tremor ejected steam, gas, and ash plumes that drifted SSE. Explosions were detected on 26 May; ashfall was rpeorted in Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW).The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two.

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)