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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 13 February-19 February 2019


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
13 February-19 February 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, 13 February-19 February 2019. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (13 February-19 February 2019)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that each day during 13-19 February there were 20-140 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained ash. Seismicity began to increase at 2100 on 14 February coincident with the onset of Strombolian activity. Incandescent material was ejected 1.5 km onto the flanks, and gas-and-ash plumes rose as high as 2 km above the carter rim and drifted SW. The phase lasted for about seven hours. Explosions were recorded at 1528, 1602, 1824, and 1935 on 14 February and at 0409 on 15 February. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind including Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW), Zacualpan (31 km SW), Jonacatepec (43 km SW), Cuautla (43 km SW), Ocuituco (24 km SW), Yecapixtla (31 km SW), and in Tochimilco (16 km SSE).

During 0044-0606 on 16 February Strombolian activity ejected incandescent material that fell back into the crater. Gas-and-ash plumes rose 1 km and drifted SE. A period of harmonic tremor began at 1600, accompanied by emissions of water vapor and gas that rose 1.5 km. By 1830 ejected incandescent fragments were visible and fell onto flanks 400 m from the crater. Plumes rose 2 km and drifted NNE. Seismicity decreased by 2100 and material was no longer being ejected above the crater rim, though crater incandescence remained visible. There were at least 14 explosions detected on 17 February; the more significant events were recorded at 0438, 0457, 0719, 0821, and 0956, generating plumes that rose 2 km and drifted NNE. Minor ashfall was reported in areas downwind including Tlaxco (85 km NE) and Xalostoc, Nativitas (40 km NE), Hueyotlipan (57 km NNE), Amaxac de Guerrero (60 km NE), Tepetitla de Lardizábal (37 km NE), Texoloc, and Tlaxcala (51 km NE). An explosion at 0704 on 18 February produced a plume that rose 2 km and drifted NNE. An explosion was detected at 0613 on 19 February. On 20 February CENAPRED noted growth of lava dome #82. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (middle level on a three-color scale).

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)