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Popocatepetl Volcano (Mexico) (1 Viewer)


bjdeming

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Volcanoes move much more slowly than weather systems. Popo has been slooooooowly ramping up, and it's not there yet by any means, but the authorities held a meeting today, per CENAPRED's special report, since the volcano started having ash emissions accompanying high levels of tremor over the past 24 hours. Various communities and parts of Mexico City got lightly ashed.

That's new (the combination of tremor and emission, not ashing, which has happened before off and on during this loooong eruption); it's definitely not a sign that activity is winding down.

Also, this happened a couple hours ago (video is worth a thousand words):


They're keeping the alert level at Yellow, Phase 2.

I've never seen anything like this, but given the population nearby, I'm glad things are keeping at a relatively quiet level.

You may be able to watch the volcano livestream here, and I'm still live-blogging it when something spectacular happens, or when there is a change like this news today.
 

bjdeming

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Thanks for the likes, people! I'm never sure if anyone is interested in this, but it does have applications for those who have to keep the general public aware of a natural hazard. (Nice lead-in to what I wanted to post now! :) )


This morning, CENAPRED's blog had a brief "what if?" post (Spanish) on lava flows at Popocatepetl. As far as I know there is nothing ongoing up there now except the usual lava plug/dome/explosion cycle that you get in this type of subduction zone volcano. I think it was the 85th dome that blew on November 4th:


The boffins would probably mention any lava observed entering the crater otherwise, let alone overflowing it. But this sort of activity has happened up there -- you can see some ancient flows on the summit near the crater. It doesn't go very far because it's so sticky.

I'm just speculating here that perhaps CENAPRED mentioned that today because volcanologists might be seeing something in the semisicity and other monitoring that indicates lava is on the move more than it has been lately, but not enough information is available to show whether a big flow is coming soon. Unable to predict if or exactly when it might happen, perhaps they're preparing the public for the possibility -- compared to some of the ongoing hazards already (see the above video for instance), a lava flow wouldn't be that horrible, based on historical ones -- not compared to concern over ashfall from a large eruption at Popo and certainly nothing like Kilauea's lava disaster in 2018! -- but no one wants 26 million people (and Mexico's national government and economic leadership, most of whom live and work nearby, too) to freak out at the sight of glowing molten rock creeping out of the summit of this huge landmark some night and inching down the slope.

In other words, IMO the hazard is not so much the lava -- it's the potential public reaction to it as a change in this long eruption. Stress levels are high, and any change can shake people's nerves.

Too, every now and then you see tweets and other social media posts about concern that what happened at Fuego last year, in Guatemala, might happen at Popo. (The volcanologists can't say that it won't, although Fuego and Popo have what this layperson probably is oversimplifying as calling "different activity styles" -- I think that sudden pyroclastic flows of that magnitude aren't as likely at Popo, though see the official hazard map (Spanish) -- it's a doozy.)

Anyway, just a thought. Certainly some complex hazard/emergency management is required here, day after day after day, year after year. BTW, this eruption will be 25 years long at the end of December and shows no sign of stopping yet.
 

WesL

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Thanks for the likes, people! I'm never sure if anyone is interested in this, but it does have applications for those who have to keep the general public aware of a natural hazard. (Nice lead-in to what I wanted to post now! :) )


This morning, CENAPRED's blog had a brief "what if?" post (Spanish) on lava flows at Popocatepetl. As far as I know there is nothing ongoing up there now except the usual lava plug/dome/explosion cycle that you get in this type of subduction zone volcano. I think it was the 85th dome that blew on November 4th:


The boffins would probably mention any lava observed entering the crater otherwise, let alone overflowing it. But this sort of activity has happened up there -- you can see some ancient flows on the summit near the crater. It doesn't go very far because it's so sticky.

I'm just speculating here that perhaps CENAPRED mentioned that today because volcanologists might be seeing something in the semisicity and other monitoring that indicates lava is on the move more than it has been lately, but not enough information is available to show whether a big flow is coming soon. Unable to predict if or exactly when it might happen, perhaps they're preparing the public for the possibility -- compared to some of the ongoing hazards already (see the above video for instance), a lava flow wouldn't be that horrible, based on historical ones -- not compared to concern over ashfall from a large eruption at Popo and certainly nothing like Kilauea's lava disaster in 2018! -- but no one wants 26 million people (and Mexico's national government and economic leadership, most of whom live and work nearby, too) to freak out at the sight of glowing molten rock creeping out of the summit of this huge landmark some night and inching down the slope.

In other words, IMO the hazard is not so much the lava -- it's the potential public reaction to it as a change in this long eruption. Stress levels are high, and any change can shake people's nerves.

Too, every now and then you see tweets and other social media posts about concern that what happened at Fuego last year, in Guatemala, might happen at Popo. (The volcanologists can't say that it won't, although Fuego and Popo have what this layperson probably is oversimplifying as calling "different activity styles" -- I think that sudden pyroclastic flows of that magnitude aren't as likely at Popo, though see the official hazard map (Spanish) -- it's a doozy.)

Anyway, just a thought. Certainly some complex hazard/emergency management is required here, day after day after day, year after year. BTW, this eruption will be 25 years long at the end of December and shows no sign of stopping yet.
@bjdeming you have actually helped re-spark my interest in Geology through your posts. Appreciate you being a TW member. Thanks so much for detailed information and good links. I have some employees and friends in Mexico and I can tell you it is on their minds. The information coming from the media is good but just like anywhere rumors are easy to start and get out of control.
 

KoD

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I enjoy your input and posts bjdeming, thank you for sharing and keeping us informed. I find geology and volcanism very fascinating!
 

bjdeming

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Thanks, KoD; and WesL, that's so cool! There's so much interesting geological information available these days. Have fun exploring some of it! I highly recommend an "oldie but goodie" for anyone interested in a plain-English but authoritative look at volcanoes: Fred Bullard's "Volcanoes and Their Activity." It's a chapter in Sheets and Grayson's Volcanic Activity and Human Ecology from the late 1970s, and might be available in libraries or perhaps even online.

I have some employees and friends in Mexico and I can tell you it is on their minds. The information coming from the media is good but just like anywhere rumors are easy to start and get out of control.
Yep. Volcanologists work really hard on getting reliable information out to authorities and the public, but they dread making a false prediction since everybody will just fall back on rumors. (Volcanoes present particular problems: there's probably more recent stuff out there now, but the book Volcano Cowboys goes into this in detail.)

With Popo, I think a lot of Mexican people living nearby have leveled up because of this approach used by CENAPRED, the University, and others for years; in better weather, you almost constantly see PR reports and tweets on official public information teams visiting various communities at risk. Repeated visits -- reinforcement -- are important, too, in such a long event; it helps keep people from burning out.

I don't know anyone there, so the main info sources I use are online -- CENAPRED, of course, and also Puebla State's Civil Protection Twitter account have been the most informative and reliable (Puebla is a huge urban area on the other side of the volcanic range from Mexico City, which is more well known internationally, but the volcano is actually known as "The Colossus of Puebla"). And they constantly put up reminders not to believe rumors (or enter the no-go zone, which a lot of adventurers apparently still do, unfortunately).

Puebla CP (PC Estatal) tweeted this, for instance, from an explosion last night -- must have been spectacular!


Just a heads-up in case something does change dramatically -- a while back, Popo did get "ooomphy" enough to temporarily raise the alert level a notch; during this, the CENAPRED site stopped updating -- no webicorder live streams and so forth. What information came out in a timely way, though with some delays, was from the Puebla CP Twitter feed; whether that will happen the next time there's an uptick, ???
 

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