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View from space: An outburst from Popocatépetl

View from orbit of a round, barren mountain puffing out a plume of steam, ash and rock fragments.

View larger. | Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico on January 2, 2021. NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

NASA Earth Observatory just published this image, acquired via Landsat 8 on January 2, 2021. It’s a plume rising from Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico, whose nickname is El Popo. This volcano is located in central Mexico, just 43 miles (70 km) from Mexico City. Residents of Mexico City can see it on clear days. Kasha Patel of NASA wrote:

Popocatépetl volcano – the name is Aztec for ‘smoking mountain’ – is one of Mexico’s most active volcanoes. The glacier-clad stratovolcano has been erupting since January 2005, with daily low-intensity emissions of gas, steam, and ash …

On January 6, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported a volcanic ash plume that rose to around 6,400 meters (21,000 feet) above the volcano. Mexico’s National Center for Prevention of Disasters (CENAPRED), which continuously monitors Popo, warned people not to approach the volcano or its crater due to falling ash and rock fragments. Some ashfall was blown downwind to the city of Puebla, located about 45 kilometers (30 miles) away from the volcano.

At 5,426 meters (17,802 feet) above sea level, Popocatépetl is the second tallest volcano in Mexico (after Citlaltépetl). It is composed of alternating layers of volcanic ash, lava, and rocks from earlier eruptions. The volcano is located around 70 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Mexico City and more than 20 million people live close enough to be affected by a major eruption. However, most of the eruptions in the past 600 years have been relatively mild.

Bottom line: Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano has been erupting since January 2005. On January 6, 2021, Mexico’s National Center for Prevention of Disasters, which continuously monitors the volcano, warned people not to approach due to falling ash and rock fragments.

Via NASA Earth Observatory

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Deborah Byrd

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