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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — 6 March-12 March 2024


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 March-12 March 2024
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2024. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 March-12 March 2024. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (6 March-12 March 2024)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

CENAPRED reported that eruptive activity continued at Popocatépetl during 5-12 March. The seismic network recorded daily periods of high-frequency, low-amplitude tremor that lasted from about 17 hours to almost 24 hours. The Washington VAAC reported that daily ash plumes visible in webcam and satellite images generally rose to 5.8-7.3 km (19,000-24,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted predominantly N, NE, and E. The ash emissions were continuous for periods of time with remnant ash often visible in subsequent satellite images, drifting almost 900 km before dissipating; on 9 March plumes were identified drifting across the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Several municipalities in Puebla reported ashfall on 7 March and operations at the Aeropuerto Internacional Hermanos Serdán in Puebla were suspended at 0700 so that the runways could be cleared of ashfall. At 1351 on 8 March and at 1650 on 9 March gas-and-steam plumes with low ash content rose 1.2 and 1.6 km above the crater rim, respectively, and drifted NE. Several municipalities in Puebla again reported ashfall during 10-11 March; municipalities in Tlaxcala reported ashfall on 11 March. The airport again suspended operations at 0700 on 11 and 12 March so that the runways could be cleared of ashfall.

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)