Popocatepetl Crater Overflight This Morning

This is also in the Popocatepetl updates (see link at top of page), but it’s awesome enough to share in a separate post, too.

The volcanologists say the dome is 250 meters (roughly 820 feet) by 30 meters (98 feet) and has a volume of 1.5 million cubic meters/530 million cubic feet. Extrusion rate is 31 cubic meters/1,100 cubic feet per second. (Again, this type of volcano has “sticky” gray lava, not “runny” red lava like Kilauea.)

Per CENAPRED’s post this morning (via Google Translate and my own translation, with added link)

In the last 25 years of activity of the Popocatépetl volcano, 80 domes have formed; the recording of their growth and subsequent destruction has been possible thanks to the overflights made with the support of the Ministry of the Navy and the Federal Police.

In addition to the overflights, it should be noted that the monitoring of the Popocatépetl volcano includes seismic, geochemical, geodetic monitoring, remote sensor image analysis, etc.

The National Center for Disaster Prevention issues a bulletin [here it is in English] every 24 hours on the activity of the Popocatépetl volcano 365 days a year. Any change in the activity of the volcano is communicated in a timely manner by the official accounts of Civil Protection @PcSegob.

Of note, here is a time-lapse video of four webcams showing Popo this moring; of course the scale is too big to see the helicopter.

Per G. K. Chesterton, 114 years ago: Fight the thing that you fear.


Popocatepetl is Putting on a Show

If we once realize all this earth as it is, we should find ourselves in a land of miracles: we shall discover a new planet at the moment that we discover our own.
— G. K. Chesterton, in “In Defence of Planets”

Starting on the afternoon of the 20th, this volcano–around which some 25 million people live, most of them in Mexico City and Puebla State–began showing strong tremor. Then activity picked up, but not to catastrophic levels, fortunately.

Popo has been erupting now for 24 years and I’ve been live-blogging it here since a little earlier this year. (You can also click on the “Popocatepetl” tab at the top of this page.)

Tonight, because of the bright moonlight, I suppose, they switched the webcam to natural color and I grabbed the screenshot above.

Science and art are just two sides of the same planet.

These videos are challenging to embed, but here it is; let’s give it a try.

Update, November 21, 2018, 1:05 p.m., Pacific: To complete the customary planetary daily circle, just wanted to include this time-lapse video shared by CENAPRED in this morning’s update (you can find these here, in English).

Goood morning, Popocatepetl!:

Featured image: Webcams de Mexico

Update on Popocatépetl

Volcanologists at the University of Mexico released a bulletin (Spanish) this morning; here is the Google Translate version. Click the link in the top menu for more information about Popocatépetl as well as updates.

Bulletin UNAM-DGCS-620
University City
11:00 hs. September 29, 2018

Ramón Espinasa Pereña

Ana Lillian Martín del Pozo


• Exhalations and vulcano-tectonic earthquakes have been increasing, because a significant amount of magma is rising, said Ramón Espinasa, from the Cenapred
• The Geophysics Institute placed well seismographs to monitor the activity and predict a major eruption
• Don Goyo has not gone to sleep since December 1994 and the tremor of September 19 of last year, whose epicenter was in a relatively nearby area, affected him, said Ana Lillian Martín del Pozzo, of IGf

The Popocatépetl volcano presents a lot of activity, and is increasing; An example of this is the increase in volcano-tectonic exhalations and earthquakes, the latter of an order of magnitude greater than that seen in the last 24 years.

This data indicates that a significant amount of magma is rising and “within months, a year or the day after tomorrow”, could present an even more important activity than it had, said Ramón Espinasa Pereña, deputy director of Volcanic Risks at the UNAM. the Research Directorate of the National Center for Disaster Prevention (Cenapred).

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Meanwhile, in Puebla . . .

See update at bottom of post, or click the Popocatepetl link at the top of this page.

This is a 2011 view of nearby Popocatepetl volcano from downtown Puebla.

Today, people in this Mexican city are watching Popocatepetl with concern (you can follow updates on its activity through the link in the top menu–it has been a bit more restless lately).

Reportedly (Spanish), Puebla State’s Civil Protection director has made a public statement. Per Google Translate of this linked news story:

Although in the last hours and days the Popocatépetl volcano has presented constant explosive activity, with incandescent fragments expelled by the crater, the Civil Protection director of the state of Puebla, Rubén Darío Herrera Cabrera, assures that it is a normal cyclic activity and that there is nothing to worry about.

The incandescent fragments, explained the head of Civil Protection, are pieces of the dome . . .

Even though spectacular fumaroles have been seen in recent days, the largest of which is 2,400 meters above the crater, there is nothing to worry about; “Another point that is constantly monitored is the seismicity and that is totally low, we have very few reports of seismicity, which gives us peace of mind,” said Herrera Cabrera, adding that the volcanic warning light continues in Yellow Phase 2.

This is an image from last night’s explosion as seen from one of CENAPRED’s webcams:


This is a night-time image, but the camera is a very good one and the Moon is quite bright. That’s chunks of incandescent material blown out of the crater, not flowing lava. Popo’s lava is very sticky and forms a dome in its crater that eventually pressurizes and blows up–apparently this is the demise of Dome #78. (CENAPRED)

Again, just click on the link at the top of the page for links to more information about Popocatepetl and updates from me.

Update, September 25, 2018: Popo got into a dramatic mood yesterday; updates are at the Popocatepetl link at the top of this page. Meanwhile, here is an eruption the volcanologists monitoring this volcano captured–it’s just one of several yesterday:

Featured image: Luisalvaz, via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0

Popocatépetl: Don Goyo

A certain Spanish adventurer was under a lot of pressure in the summer of 1519.

He and his men had forfeited their lives by mutinying in order to go seek their fortune in the New World. After arriving there, he had scuttled the boats to thwart an unhappy faction that wanted to turn back; and now enemies surrounded them on every side while up ahead were the Aztecs–skillful fighters who wore elaborate constumes, launched attacks with screeching skull whistles, and would carve the heart out of your living chest or kill you in some other cruel way if they won.

Also, gunpowder–the Spaniards’ only hope of staying alive in the New World, let alone conquering it–was running low.

Despite all this, Hernán Cortés had to pause and describe for posterity something wonderful he had seen:

[E]ight leagues from this city of Churultecal are two very high and very marvellous mountains . . . at the end of August they have so much snow or something else on top that, if not snow, looks like it. And out of the one that is highest comes many times, day and night, a huge column of smoke, like that from a big house, rising from the mountain up into the clouds, as straight as a vein, with so much force as it emerges that, although up in the mountains the wind [is] always very strong, it cannot twist it.
— Hernán Cortés, quoted here, translated by Google Translate and me

Popo plume and Izta Popo

Top: Screen capture from this YouTube video (Spanish). Bottom: A 2010 sunrise view from the Aztec side of the mountains; Cortes saw them from the east. The “smoking mountain’s” plume (right) is hardly visible in this shot. What is now called Cortés Pass (Paso de Cortés) connects the two mountains. (Joaquin Martínez Rosado, public domain)

While momentary awe is always welcome, Cortés still had urgent practicalities to attend to. Recognizing an active volcano when he saw one, he sent a team under the command of Captain Diego de Ordás up to the summit to collect sulfur for making more gunpowder.

Here is what the crater of that “smoking mountain”–Popocatépetl, in the ancient Nahuatl language–looked like in 2013 when its usually icy and snow-covered slopes were dark with ash after some eruptions.

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