Powerful eruptions at Popocatepetl volcano, ash to 12.8 km (42 000 feet) a.s.l., Mexico

Powerful eruptions at Popocatepetl volcano, ash to 12.8 km (42 000 feet) a.s.l., Mexico

Several significant eruptions took place at Popocatepetl volcano, Mexico on June 17, 2019. The volcanic ash cloud rose up to 12.8 km (42 000 feet) above sea level.

The first eruption started at 11:44 UTC (06:44 local time) followed by another one at 12:04 UTC (07:04 LT). According to the Washington VAAC, volcanic ash was observed rising up to 8.4 km (28 000 feet) above sea level, moving SW. Update posted 13:08 UTC mentions ash rising up to 9.7 km (32 000 feet) a.s.l.

At 14:01 UTC, satellite imagery revealed new ash cloud moving west at 8.5 km (28 000 feet) while another volcanic ash (from the previous explosion) rose up to 10.7 km (35 000 feet) a.s.l.

Another explosion took place at 17:40 UTC (12:40 LT), ejecting ash up to 8 km (26 200 feet).

By 18:15 UTC, the initial ash cloud rose up to 12.8 km (42 000 feet) a.s.l.

Another explosion took place at 20:21 UTC, ejecting ash up to 9.4 km (31 000 feet) a.s.l.

In 24 hours to 15:00 UTC on June 17, Popocatepetl volcano monitoring network detected 187 exhalations, accompanied by water, gas and light amounts of gas. 

Geological summary

Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, rises 70 km (44 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 volcano erupting on June 17, 2019. Credit: Elia Calderon

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