Whitnee Morgan

This is Volcano Popocatepetil in Mexico

My volcano is in Mexico. It is one the most active volcanoes. When I was researching this was very shocked that Mexico had volcanoes in it. Popocatepetl lies along Mexico’s Cordillera Neo-Volcánica at the southern edge of the Mexican Plateau, 10 miles (16 km) south of its twin, Iztaccíhuatl, and 45 miles (72 km) southeast of Mexico City. The perpetually snowcapped, symmetrical cone of Popocatepetl rises to an elevation of 17,930 feet (5,465 metres), surpassed only by Mexico’s tallest volcano, Pico de Orizaba (18,406 feet [5,610 meters]).

Mexico's 'Smoking Mountain,' Popocatepetl Volcano, is living up to its Aztec name. On May 22, 2013, an explosive column of ash and gas reached higher than a kilometer. Three hours of spasmodic tremors accompanied two volcanotectonic earthquakes of magnitude 2.1 and 1.8 as well. Here, a cloud of ash belches out of the volcano, as seen from Paso de Cortes, in the Mexican central state of Puebla, on May 20, 2013.

The first, and most obvious, thing is that a major [4] eruption would create an immense cloud of ash and volcanic gasses (mainly CO2, SO2, and H2SO4) that would shoot up into the stratosphere. And the immediate practical effect of that is that air travel to and through the area would be stopped, lest the engines be destroyed by the ash leading to sudden, unplanned landings. The longer-term practical effect of that is that the Earth’s temperature would drop by about 0.5°C. You see, sulfur in the atmosphere acts to reflect sunlight and so decreases the amount of energy that comes to Earth. When Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it lowered the global temperature for nearly four years, until the sulfur compounds finally washed out of the atmosphere or reacted with other gases. And when Tambora erupted in 1815, it created the year without a summer [6].


olcán Popocatepetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, towers to 5426 m 70 km SE of Mexico City to form North America's 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 250-450 m deep 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 south of the volcano. The modern volcano was constructed to the south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene El Fraile cone. Three major plinian eruptions, the most recent of which took place about 800 AD, have occurred from Popocatepetl 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.

Volcanic Explositivity Index: 1-2

Popocatepetl, the second highest volcano in Mexico, is a giant stratovolcano, 70 km (~45 miles) southeast of downtown Mexico City, and 45 km (~30 miles) southwest of the city of Puebla.

Popo - as many people call it rather than struggling with its full name (Popo-cat-e-petal) - became active just before Christmas after five decades of quiet. During the last two years the volcano has frequently had a small column of steam rising from its summit crater. After midnight on December 21, 1994 a series of earthquakes signaled that eruptions had started. That morning a gray ash cloud was visible over the top of the volcano, and ash fell on Puebla.

During the afternoon, the eruptions increased. Because most of the ash was blowing to the east, civil defense authorities decided to evacuate 19 villages (31,000 people) east of Popo. Moderate eruptions have continued, and according to newspapers the total number of evacuees was about 75,000 people by December 26. The United States Geologic Survey has sent a team of volcano experts to Mexico to help Mexican scientists evaluate what the volcano may do in the near future. The volcano has been quite for more than a week now.

Background Information:

Popo is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico, having had 15 eruptions since the arrival of the Spanish in 1519 AD. The Aztec Indians who lived in Central Mexico recorded additional eruptions in 1347 and 1354. Most of the eruptions in the past 600 years were relatively mild, with ash columns rising only a few kilometers above the summit.

Volcanologists have studied Popo because most volcanoes tend to have future eruptions that are like their earlier ones. Thus, the volcano's past history helps us prepare for possible future activity. One very important reason to try to predict future eruptions is that more than 20 million Mexican people live close enough to the volcano to be threatened by its eruptions.

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