April 18, 2012 – Mexico raises volcano alert level: Mexican Interior Minister Alejandro Poire said Tuesday that the country was keeping a close watch on the Popocatepetl volcano (17,802 feet) near Mexico City. There are an estimated 21.2 million people in the Mexico City Metropolitan area (shown in blue in the above Google Earth screen shot).
Pictured above, Ash and smoke spew from Popocatepetl Volcano as it is seen from Xalitxintla town, in the central state of Puebla, 12km (7 miles) from the crater. Residents of nearby communities reported roaring noises from the volcano after signs of increased activity prompted authorities to raise alert levels. AFPpic and narrative April 18, 2012.
The remarks came a day after the Mexican government raised the alert for the volcano, which is one of the three largest volcanoes in the country and recently spewed red-hot fragments of rocks.
The change in the volcanic alert is a preventive measure against a possible increase in volcanic activity, he said at a press conference.
Popocatepetl has experienced a series of exhalations of low intensity in the last 24 hours, accompanied by a plume of steam and gas, as well as a small amount of ash.
Pictured above, Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, towers to 5,426 m, 70 km (43 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 wide crater (1,312 by 1,968 feet). The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the sharp-peaked Ventorrillo (small protrusion) on the NW, a remnant of an earlier volcano. At least three previous major cones were destroyed by gravitational failure during the Pleistocene (2 million to 11,000 years ago), producing massive debris-avalanche deposits covering broad areas south of the volcano. The modern volcano was constructed to the south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene (11,000 years ago to the present) El Fraile cone. Three major plinian eruptions (a volcanic eruption in which a stream of gas and ash is violently ejected to a height of several miles), the most recent of which took place about 800 AD, 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 (the time preceding Christopher Columbus’s voyages of 1492). Picture and narrative credit, The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Poire said that “the federal government has all the financial, logistical and human resources to meet any contingency arising from the volcano’s activities”.
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said there was no need to worry about the situation, with no volcanic ash falling in the vicinity of the capital.
Popocatepetl lies in the eastern half of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. It erupted and ejected lava in Dec 2000, during which some 30,000 people were evacuated.
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