USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington
Popocatépetl Volcano, Mexico
Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program's Website, 1998
Latitude: 19.023 N
Longitude: 98.622 W
Height: 5,465 Meters
VDAP Response to Eruptive activity at
Popocatépetl Volcano, Mexico, 1994
Popocatépetl is a steep-sided volcanic cone
located 55 kilometers east of Mexico City, Mexico,
and 45 kilometers west of the Puebla metropolitan area.
More than 30 million people live within view of the
volcano and hundreds of thousands of people would
be endangered by hazards associated with
a large explosive eruption of the volcano.
A major eruption would have serious consequences
for people living in communities on the flanks of the volcano,
and ash from such an eruption
could also endanger aircraft using Mexico City international airport.
About 30 eruptions have
been reported in historical time, although documentation is poor.
Most historical eruptions
were apparently restricted to mild-to-moderate
Vulcanian steam and ash emission. The latest
significant activity took place from 1920-22.
Popocatépetl is known to have produced a
number of Plinian eruptions since the beginning of the Holocene.
Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Network's Website, December 2000
Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain,
towers above Mexico City and is North America's 2nd highest volcano.
The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled,
250-450-meter-deep crater. The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the
sharp-peaked Ventorrillo on the northwest, 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 south of the
volcano. The modern cone was constructed in two stages.
El Fraile volcano was formed prior to 10,000
years before present (BP) and was partly destroyed by three episodes of explosive activity,
the last from about 5,000 to 3,800 years BP. The current summit of Popocatépetl
was formed to the south of El Fraile cone by repeated lava effusions until about
1,200 years BP, after which the current, dominantly explosive phase began.
Frequent historical eruptions have been recorded since the beginning of the Spanish era.
Most historical eruptions were apparently mild-to-moderate Vulcanian steam and ash emissions,
with larger explosive eruptions in 1519 and possibly 1663.
Activity in 1920-22 produced intermittent explosive eruptions and a small lava plug
in the summit crater. Minor ash clouds were also reported in 1923-24, 1933,
1942-43, and 1947. The volcano separates Mexico and Puebla Valleys,
both with more than 20 million
inhabitants. México City (population 18 million) and Puebla (population 2 million)
are 70 and 60 kilometers from Popocatépetl.
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08/16/00, Lyn Topinka