Saturday, April 21, 2012

Popocatepetl Awakens

All volcanoes bear watching, but this one particularly so.  It is fully grown and is quite capable of collapsing like Mt St. Helens.  At the moment, it appears to be merely adding more mass and is not lifting itself bodily into the sky a St Helens was doing.

The great valley of Mexico is a volcanic hotspot with several active volcanoes nearby.  The potential for catastrophic damage here is not slight at all.  Hopefully as our civilization continues to fully modernize, urban concentration itself will end and Mexico city will generally disperse into the countryside well away from flow paths and the like.

The random nature of volcanic activity needs to be remarked upon.  We naturally look for  patterns were none may even exist.  We have just had two major tsunamis inside a decade after going decades and centuries without meaningful disturbance.  Volcanoes act in much the same way.

Everywhere I bother to look I find the potential for a cascade of volcanoes as happened in the 1640's, yet a century has passed with only modest activity.  The fact remains that there are some seriously nasty events booked on to our dance card that we can do nothing about except to get well away from.  This peak is one such.  And of course the present exclusion zone is minimal, but it is still early days.

Volcanic activity recorded at mountain near Mexico City

By the CNN Wire Staff

April 17, 2012 -- Updated 2108 GMT (0508 HKT)

The Popocatepetl volcano is one of Mexico's highest peaks and last had a major eruption in 2000.

Mexico City (CNN) -- Scientists recorded continuing volcanic activity Tuesday in Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano, which sits just southeast of Mexico City and its more than 19 million residents.

Local government officials and residents began taking precautions, with schools in the zone near the volcano closing Tuesday and the government advising residents to close windows and avoid the outdoors.

Activity had decreased in Popocatepetl overnight, but eight exhalations of low intensity were recorded, Mexico's National Center for the Prevention of Disasters said.

A low-amplitude tremor lasting 40 minutes early Tuesday morning was also felt, the agency said.

Officials placed the alert at Popocatepetl -- which means "Smoking Mountain" in the native Nahuatl language -- at Yellow Level 3. This means there is a probability of explosive activity of an intermediate to high scale, an eruption of lava and a spewing of ash.

A glow was visible inside the crater overnight, the agency said.

Popocatepetl is one of Mexico's highest peaks and last had a major eruption in 2000. It is located in a national park southeast of Mexico City and can be seen from there on a clear day.

Already, scientists have observed a continuous column of water vapor and moderate amounts of ash rising from the crater. Falling ash was reported in the city of Puebla, the capital of the state.

A 7-mile perimeter around the volcano has been cleared, and the Puebla state government asked residents to limit travel between cities near the volcano.

To guard against falling ash, residents should close doors and windows, cover water tanks and food and avoid outdoor activities, the government said.

1 comment:

Odyssian said...

Seeing Popo up close is reason enough for me to visit Mexico City one day!