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Powerful explosion at Popocatepetl, heavy ash to 7.3 km (24 000 feet) a.s.l., Mexico

popocatepetl-eruption-july-22-2020

A powerful volcanic eruption took place at Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano at around 14:58 UTC (09:58 LT) on July 22, 2020. According to the Washington VAAC, a heavy volcanic ash plume reached approximately 7 300 m (24 000 feet) above sea level.

In a 24-hour period to Wednesday, July 22, the monitoring system at the volcano identified 46 emissions of gas and steam plumes with volcanic ash that drifted west-southwest, the National Center for Prevention of Disasters (CENAPRED) reported.

Incandescence was visible from the crater on Tuesday night, while constant emission of gas and ash has been observed.

Additionally, 101 minutes of low amplitude tremor was registered.

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Image credit: CENAPRED

Ash fall was expected in Ecatzingo, San Juan Tepecoculco, San Andrés Tlalamac, San Pedro, Tetela del Volcán, Texcala, Jumiltepec, Ocuituco and Yecapixtla.

The Volcanic Alert Traffic Light is now in Yellow Phase 2.

Despite the restrictions issued by CENAPRED, mountaineers continue to climb to the crater, even filming the top of the volcano.

The department advises people to avoid getting near the volcano, especially the crater, due to the danger posed by ballistic fragments.

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 credit: CENAPRED

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