Monday, 29 December 2014

Eruptions on Mount Popocatépetl.

Mount Popocatépetl in southern Mexico has undergone a series of violent eruptions over the past few days, according to the Centro Nacional de Provención de Desastres, the national agency in Mexico responsible for monitoring volcanic activity. The eruptions began slightly after 5.05 pm local time on Saturday 26 December 2014 with a major explosive eruption, which produced an ash column that rose 3.5 km above the volcanos summit. This was followed by six smaller explosions overnight, accompanied by visible incandescence (glowing) from the crater. The organization has issued a warning of potential ashfalls to nearby communities and pyroclastic flows and lahars closer to the peak (a pyroclastic flow contains hot ash and gasses, a lahar fast moving mud made up of water and volcanic ash, both are extremely dangerous). It is also recommending that people remain more than 12 from the volcano.

The ash column over Mount Popocatepetl on 16 December 2014. Centro Nacional de Provención de Desastres.

Major eruptions on Popocatépetl are a cause for concern as the volcano is in a densely populated area, with 30 million people living within the potential hazard zone. The last major eruption, a Plinian (or Vesuvian) event in about 800 AD, triggered a series of pyroclastic flows and lahars that scoured the basins around the volcano.

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The location of Popocatépetl. Google Maps.

The volcanoes of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (including Popocatépetl) are fueled by the subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath the North American Plate along the Middle American Trench to the south of Mexico. As the subducting plate sinks into the Earth it is melted by the heat and pressure, and volatile minerals liquify and rise through the overlying North American Plate as magma, fueling Mexico's volcanoes.

See also...

Fights in and out of Mexico City were cancelled on Thursday and Friday 5 and 6 July 2013, after Mount Popocatépetl, 65 km to the southeast, began a new round of eruptions with an ash column rising 1.5 km above the summit, and drifting...

The central Mexican volcano Popocatépetl began erupting explosively at about 7.30 pm local time on Tuesday 7 May 2013 (12.30 am on Wednesday May GMT), throwing lumps of incandescent rock up to 700 m from the crater and throwing a column of ash 7.6 km into the air according to the...

The Middle American Trench, in which the Cocos Plate is subducted beneath the North American Plate, runs parallel to the south coast of Mexico. Like many subduction zones...

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