Environment

Strongest eruption since 2013 at Popocatepetl volcano, Mexico


On Thursday, November 23, 2017, Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano experienced its strongest eruption since 2013. Ashfall was reported in nearby communities, mainly to the south and southeast.

The eruption started at 20:13 UTC (14:13 local time), producing a plume of ash to around 1 800 m (5 900 feet) above the crater. That’s 7 226 m (23 700 feet) above sea level.

“This is the largest activity since 2013,” Carlos Valdes Gonzales, General Director of Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED) said on Twitter.

The eruptive event was registered by the Tlamacas and Altzomoni stations, located 4.5 km (2.8 miles) and 12 km (7.4 miles) from the volcano, respectively.

Popocatepetl erupting on November 23, 2017. Courtesy Webcamsdemexico

Valdes reminded residents living near the volcano to cover their water sources, wear protective masks and do not let ash accumulate on light roofs.

CENAPRED warns residents and tourists not to go near the volcano, especially near the crater due to hazard caused by ballistic fragments.

Geological summary

Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, towers to 5 426 m (17 801 feet) 70 km (43.5 miles) SE of Mexico City to form North America’s 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 400 x 600 m (1 312 x 1 968 feet) 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 from Popocatépetl 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 precolumbian time. (GVP)

Featured image: Popocatepetl erupting on November 23, 2017. Credit: Webcamsdemexico





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