The Mexican National Centre for Disaster Prevention reported a series of eruptions on Mount Popocatépetl on Tuesday 20 October 2015, beginning at about 2.00 pm local time, the largest of which produced an ash column which rose 2.5 km over the summit of the volcano. Popocatépetl is one of Mexico's most active volcanoes, and is more-or-less constantly active at some level, though this is the first large plume produced by the mountain since 3 October this year.
Ash column over Mount Popocatépetl on 20 October 2015. Webcams de Mexico.
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.
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.
The subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath the North American Plate in Mexico, and how it leads to volcanoes and Earthquakes. King Saud University.
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