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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 10 May-16 May 2023


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 May-16 May 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, 10 May-16 May 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (10 May-16 May 2023)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that there were 127-281 daily steam, gas, and ash emissions and minor-to-moderate explosions recorded at Popocatépetl during 9-16 May. Plumes mostly drifted SE, ESE, and ENE. On 9 May minor explosions were recorded at 1141, 2009, and 2310, and on 10 May moderate explosions were recorded at 0152 and 0316. Ashfall was reported in Tlalmanalco (30 km NW) and Tetela del Volcán (20 km SW) in Morelos during 9-10 May. On 11 May minor explosions were recorded at 0135, 0215, and 1621, while moderate explosions were recorded at 0526, 0811, 0838, 1601, and 1646. Minor explosions occurred at 1318 and 1452 on 12 May. On 13 May minor explosions occurred at 0012, 0805, and 2146, and a moderate explosion occurred at 1012. Ashfall was reported in the municipalities of Nealtican (20 km E), Huejotzingo (21 km E), and Domingo Arenas (20 km NE). On 14 May minor explosions were recorded at 0605, 0711, 0831, 1413, 1439, and 2312; moderate explosions were recorded at 1253, 1444, 1608, and 1941. On 15 May the network detected minor explosions at 0033 and 0051, and moderate explosions at 0352, 0512, 0617, 0852, 1051, 1232, and 1613. Minor amounts of ash fell in the municipalities of Puebla (43 km E) and Atlixco (24 km SE) and moderate amounts fell in municipalities near the volcano to the S. Weather clouds prevented views on 16 May. According to the Washington VAAC daily ash plumes were identified in satellite images rising 6.1-7.3 km (20,000-24,000 ft) a.s.l. (0.7-1.9 km above the crater rim) and drifting E and SE. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (the middle level on a three-color scale). CENAPRED urged people to respect the exclusion radius of 12 km and to not ascend the volcano.

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.

Sources: Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)