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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 10 March-16 March 2021


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 March-16 March 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 March-16 March 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (10 March-16 March 2021)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During an overflight of Popocatépetl on 5 March scientists from Instituto de Geofísica de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and CENAPRED observed that the inner crater was 360-390 m in diameter and 150-182 m deep. Tephra deposits on the crater floor were visible and there was no sign of a lava dome. Each day during 10-15 March there were 35-104 steam, gas, and ash emissions that drifted mainly SSW and NW. Minor ashfall was reported in the municipalities of Amecameca (20 km NW) and Tlalmanalco (30 km NW) around 2250 on 12 March. An explosion was recorded at 2351 on 13 March. Minor ashfall was reported in Amecameca the next day. 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)