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Strong explosion at Popocatepetl volcano, ash to 11.3 km (37 000 feet) a.s.l., Mexico


A strong explosion took place at Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano at 12:31 UTC (06:31 LT) on January 9, 2020. At least two volcanic ash clouds were produced today, with initial rising up to 11.3 km (37 000 feet) above sea level, and second to 9.1 km (30 000 feet) a.s.l. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (the middle level on a three-color scale).

The explosion threw incandescent material at a distance of 1 km (0.62 miles) from the edge of the crater.

In 24 hours to 17:00 UTC today, monitoring systems recorded 268 exhalations composed of water vapor, volcanic gases, and low ash content. Additionally, 90 minutes of tremor were recorded and 1 volcano-tectonic earthquake at 16:10 UTC on January 8 with a magnitude of 1.4.

Although CENAPRED initially reported ash cloud to 3 km (9 800 feet), according to data provided by the Washington VAAC, it rose to 11.3 km (37 000 feet) a.s.l. by 13:46 UTC, drifting SE and stretching 140 km (86 miles) from the summit.

The initial volcanic ash cloud dissipated by 18:41 UTC and was no longer visible in satellite imagery. Second volcanic ash continued moving NNE at 18 km/h (11 mph) at a height of 8.2 km (27 000 feet) a.s.l., the Washington VAAC reported.

YouTube video

Light ashfall was reported in the State of Mexico, Ozumba, Puebla, San Nicolás de los Ranchos, Chiautzingo, San Matías Tlalpaneca, and Teotlalzingo.

CENAPRED urges residents and tourists not to approach the volcano, especially the crater, due to the danger of falling ballistic fragments and in case of heavy rains to move away from ravines due to the danger of mud and debris flows. Ignore rumors and be attentive to the information issued by the National Civil Protection Coordination through its official channels.

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: Explosion at Popocatepetl volcano at 12:31 UTC on January 9, 2020. Credit: CENAPRED, Webcamsdemexico


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  1. Dear Allison,
    very good written, but damn democratic party from the period of Bill Clinton is prepaid by CHINA. CHINA has paid $200 milion to make Clinton A PRESIDENT OF USA. China had never the balistic rockets to reach 13000 km and more in arsenal, at 1994 year China has got this. How is it possible? China invested $500 milion for Hillary Clinton win, in good luck for all, refused now. All chazars, Rotschild, Rockefeller included, voted for China, the Media and Press too. If Trump imposed a taxes on china goods, democratic party was against and EU too. They want to be paid by 10%, 20% payment from the china goods delivered into USA, this USA betrayers want only profit, in people they are not interested!

  2. That question right there shows the real reason for the acrimonious level of partisan politics – blaming the people who don’t share your political views. We are ALL Americans, and we ALL want what is best for this country even if we have different opinions as to how to go about that. We should be working together for the public good, and realizing that regardless of race or ethnicity, religious belief, gender, socio-economic status, etc., we all have a responsibility to treat each other with respect, integrity, compassion, and loyalty as fellow Americans. And to impart some of the wisdom of my great-grandfather, when you lift up those at the bottom, all of society rises… let’s fix the economy so it benefits those in the most need rather than those at the top who don’t need further help.

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