Popocatepetl Volcano Spews Ash, Scares Residents Near Mexico City

Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 06:57 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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The active Popocatepetl volcano near Mexico City shot a column of ash almost 2.5 miles into the air Monday, scaring residents and setting off fires down the volcano's slope.

The volcano had been emitting gas and steam, with some columns of ash, into the air during these first weeks of June, according to reports from the Global Volcanism Program at the Smithsonian Institute.

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The Mexico National Center for Prevention of Disasters (CENAPRED) put the volcano on alert level Yellow, Phase 2, which restricts access to the area around the volcano.

The volcano has been rumbling for the past year. In mid-May, evacuations were planned because of the high activity level, with more than 22 explosions occurring in one day. Another large eruption of ash occurred May 22, along with two small earthquakes.

In December 2000, a large eruption occurred, causing mass evacuations. No one was hurt.

Residents may begin to plan for evacuations again if activity continues.

Popocatepetl is the second highest volcano in Mexico. It was dormant since the 1950s, according to GlobalPost, but became active in 1994.

Erik Clemetti, a geoscience professor at Denison University, explained the mechanics of what’s happening inside Popocatepetl on his Wired page.

Domes of lava grow in the summit crater, Clemetti said, and then collapse or are destroyed by explosions. He compared the effect to popping the top off a shaken soda bottle, creating a high-pressure release of soda.

Popocatepetl is the Aztec word for “smoking mountain.”

CENAPRED maintains cameras aimed at the volcano so people can see what is happening.



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