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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 15 March-21 March 2023


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 March-21 March 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 March-21 March 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (15 March-21 March 2023)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that there were 110-236 steam-and-gas emissions, sometimes containing minor amounts of ash, rising from Popocatépetl each day during 14-21 March; explosions also occurred almost daily. On 15 March a moderately-sized explosion recorded at 0009 was followed by minor explosions at 0058, 0220, 0641, 1215, 1509, and 2105, with another moderate explosion at 1848. On 16 March minor explosions were recorded at 0155 and 2215, and on 17 March they were recorded at 1441, 2105, and 2349. On 19 March multiple minor explosions were recorded, at 0003, 0220, 0926, and 2023, and moderate explosions occurred at 0501, 1300, and 1315. Minor explosions on 20 March were recorded at 0013, 0200, 0226, and 2112, and a moderate one occurred at 1404. A minor explosion occurred at 1712 on 21 March. According to the Washington VAAC daily ash plumes rose to 6.1-8.2 (20,000-27,000 ft) a.s.l., or around as high as 2.8 km above the summit, and drifted mainly N, NE, and S. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (the 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)