Live-blogging Popocatépetl, July 6-24, 2013

July 24, 5:41 a.m.

CENAPRED lowered the alert back to Yellow, Phase 2, last night.

July 22, 2013, 5:14 p.m.

Popo maintains its lower level of activity, but the volcanologists still have it at Yellow, Phase 3. I will only blog now when there is news.

CENAPRED

There is now a crater where a lava dome used to sit. Source: CENAPRED

July 16, 2013, 11:17 a.m.

Don Goyo has actually been pretty stable over the last several days, and I have been following the CENAPRED posts but not blogging about it, for the webicorder was generally quiet. The alert level continues at Yellow, Phase 3.

Yesterday, though, the scientists did another overflight and found that the volcano has blown away its old lava dome (I’m thinking perhaps that was the big explosion on the 13th?) and excavated a new hole in its summit crater.

Here is last night’s report from CENAPRED, in English:

July 15 18:00 h (July 15 23:00 GMT)

During the last 7 hours the monitoring system at Popocatepetl volcano registered 6 low intensity exhalations, which were probably followed by emissions of gases and ash, although this could not be corroborated due to the prevailing cloud cover. Additionally, two volcanotectonic microseisms of Mc 2.0 and 2.1 were detected at 12:03 and 15:32, respectively.

Today an overflight was made with the aid of the Mexican Navy, in which it could be seen that the dome reported on the previous overflight was destroyed by the explosions which ocurred and were reported on the last few days. In its place a new crater 200 m in diameter and 20 to 30 m deep was seen (see image) (see image) (see image) (see image).

The Volcanic Alert Level is at Yellow, Phase 3.

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Look at the spike from the 0300 explosion!

Look at the spike from the 0300 explosion!

July 12, 2013, at 9:58 p.m. Eastern

A “black eye” was very noticeable on Don Goyo’s snowy summit this morning (click on the image to the left to enlarge). You can also see etchings where rocks were thrown during a large explosion last night.

I’m too tired tonight to go into much detail, but here are CENAPRED’s two reports for today, translated by Dr. Google:

July 12 18:00 h (2300 GMT July 12)

Over the past seven hours monitoring system Popocatepetl volcano registered 21 exhalations, which were accompanied by the emission of water vapor, gas and sometimes slight amounts of ash (see picture).

Additionally several segments recorded high frequency tremor in totaled 15 minutes. Also recorded at 14:35 h volcanotectónico an earthquake of magnitude 2.2.

The Volcanic Alert semaphore remains at Yellow Phase 3.

July 12 11:00 am (1600 GMT July 12)

During the last 24 hours monitoring system Popocatepetl volcano registered 67 exhalations, some of which were accompanied by ash emissions (see seismogram), however corroborate cloudy conditions prevented in most cases. Further 4.5 hour were recorded segments tremor high frequency and low amplitude. At 19:49 h yesterday and today 1:37 and 03:00 explosions were recorded medium intensity, which launched incandescent fragments up to two kilometers from the crater on the eastern side and up to a km from the northern flank (see picture) (see picture) (see picture)

In the early hours of today the volcano was observed with a light pen water vapor, gases and small amounts of ash headed west (see picture) (see picture).

The July 10 conducted a reconnaissance overflight support from the Navy – Navy of Mexico, which could be corroborated the presence of a lava dome about 250 m in diameter and 20 m thick within the main crater. In the images obtained can also appreciate ballistic fragments numerous impacts on snow in the outer slopes of the volcano (see picture) (see picture)

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Think I have figured out what those streaks on the right are.  (Click to enlarge)

Think I have figured out what those streaks on the right are. (Click to enlarge)

July 11, 2013, at 11:04 a.m. Eastern

Well, Popocatépetl has been fairly quiet over the last day or so. There is still a strong white (mostly steam/gas) plume when the summit is visible.

Just wanted to mention that this account gave me a good clue about the nature of that field of streaks on Popo’s summit, seen in that close-up image from Tochimilco the other day:

… streaks of gravel and boulders were running down the NE outer slopes of the cone. These streaks of course material were 10 to 20m wide and a few hundred meters long and very close to the route of ascent to the mountain that is usually taken by most climbers.

That was on May 3, 1996. Over the last 17 years, probably much more gravel and boulders have accumulated at the summit, though I am not 100% sure of the directions as seen on the cams. That most likely is Noroccidental Glacier on the left in this image (the rounded, bumpy parts), but the ice field probably does not extend across the whole summit in this picture. The Colossus of Puebla wears its glaciers like this (though map was made when they were more extensive).

Source.

Source (PDF).

Those streaks are probably gravel and boulders sitting on relatively smooth exposed rock. I couldn’t guess if they collected as moraines from a now-melted glacier and/or they formed from ejecta and erosion. In any case, I suspect that flowing water (rain, ice melt, etc) moved them into this pattern.

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July 10, 2013, at 9:20 a.m. Eastern

High-frequency tremor subsided a bit last night at Popocatépetl, per last night’s CENAPRED report, but Don Goyo greeted the dawn with a small exhalation.

CENAPRED

CENAPRED

Washington VAAC issued an advisory at 07:48 GMT, but there is nothing more recent up at the website just now.

Also, tremor apparently rose again around midnight local time, per the PPIG webicorder (this is not the “official” seismogram that the volcanologists sometimes link to in their reports – it is just the public one closest to Popo that I could find, and I have noted that it doesn’t always correspond with the “official” one; it’s just interesting, not definitive).

PPIG July 10 am

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July 9, 2013, at 12:53 p.m.

The skies are clear today at Popocatépetl and CENAPRED appears to be making full use of the cams today. Here is a dramatic close-up of the summit earlier this morning from the Tochimilco cam:

imagenPopoTochimilco

Such breath-taking detail, and I don’t know what most of it is. I have read that the external summit features have been carved by ice, and that Don Goyo has had glaciers, but that they have been melting.

I think those “bumps” on the left are made of ice, not igneous rock. What are the long streak features to the right – tracks of melt on an ice field or former lahars down a rocky surface …?

Here is a long shot from the same cam, just a moment or two ago:

imagenPopoTochimilcolong view

Also, here is CENAPRED’s 11:00 h bulletin this morning, translated by Dr. Google and me:

July 09 11:00 am (1600 GMT July 09)

During the last 24 hours monitoring system Popocatepetl volcano tremor registered high frequency and low to moderate amplitude (see seismogram), which has been accompanied by persistent emission of steam, gas and light amounts of ash (see Figure 1).

In addition, there were two explosions, the first yesterday at 14:45 h, whose eruption column headed northwest with a height of 1 km above the crater (see Figure 2), which was later accompanied by harmonic tremor segments Total accumulated in 10 minutes. The second was recorded today at 02:26 h, the eruption column height reached 1.5 km to the southwest (see Figure 3),

During the night there was incandescent and incandescent fragments issuing a short distance from the main crater on the east side, many of them fell back into it (see Figure 4).

From Monday morning until the time of this report the volcano has been observed with persistent emission of steam, gas and light amounts of ash moving west-southwest at an average height of 1.2 km above the level of the crater (see figure 5), (see figure 6).

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July 9, 2013, at 9:43 a.m. Eastern

Just a quick note, as I’m working. CENAPRED did a close-up of the summit this morning from the Tianguismanalco cam that may show a bit of the lava dome peeking up over the crater rim! (Click to enlarge this image)

Tiang closeup July 9

I probably was wrong about that explosion the other night being the demolition of the newly discovered lava dome.

Will see what they say in this morning’s update later on. Here is last night’s 6 p.m. update, in English:

July 08 18:00 h (July 08 23:00 GMT)

In the last 7 hours the monitoring system of Popocatepetl volcano has recorded tremor of high frequency and low amplitude, has been accompanied by a persistent emission of steam, gas and light amounts of ash that initially took west-southwest (see image), and after northwest direction (see image).

In addition, there was an explosion at 14:45 h later which was accompanied by harmonic tremor segments in total accumulated 10 minutes (see image).

The prevailing cloudy conditions during the afternoon had prevented the visibility the volcano at the time of this report.

The Volcanic Alert Level is at Yellow, Phase 3.

The plume jet is going great guns, and Washington VAAC does have an advisory up at this time, reporting ash extending 25 nautical miles WSW from Don Goyo.

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July 8, 2013, at 12:58 p.m. Eastern

Here is CENAPRED’s 11:00 h bulletin this morning, in English:

July 08 11:00 h (July 08 16:00 GMT)

In the last 24 hours the monitoring system of Popocatepetl volcano has recorded 11 hours of low frequency tremor and low amplitude which has been accompanied by a constant emission of steam, gas and light amounts of ash that has been directed mainly to the northwest. Additionally there have been several episodes of variable amplitude harmonic tremor which total 5 hours (see seismogram).

Also, there were two volcanotectonic earthquakes. The first yesterday at 15:19 h of magnitude 1.9, and the second today at 02:38 h of magnitude 2.4.

During some periods of the night incandescence was observed in the crater (see image 1). Also the emission of incandescent fragments near the crater rim (see image 2).

At the time of this report shows the volcano with an emission of steam, gas and ash that reached a height of 3 km above the crater rim and heads westward (see image 3).

The Volcanic Alert Level is at Yellow, Phase 3.

Boletin 177 SEGOB

At the moment, the summit is fairly clear and the jet is going full blast, but I had to stop my time-lapse webcam program as I will soon be going out for a bit. Here are two videos I made from that for roughly 24 hours, from yesterday until around noon Eastern today.

The first is from the Tlamacas cam – CENAPRED did a couple close-ups of the summit on that cam during the night. They flash by, even though I’ve slowed this down to 8 fps.

The second time-lapse video is from the cam at Tianguismanalco. This one is usually ashed/clouded over but it was relatively clear, all things considered. Wait for the end, where there are some clear shots of the plume.

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July 8, 2013, at 6:50 a.m. Eastern

Yesterday CENAPRED made another flight and found that Don Goyo had built himself a lava dome (this is image 2 in the 6 p.m. bulletin, below):

New dome

However, that might be old news now, because this happened around 1 a.m. local time last night:

Dome explosion

The dome probably exploded, as young lava domes sometimes do (since they’re built of lava that hasn’t totally degassed yet).

It’s too early for a CENAPRED bulletin today, but here is their 6 p.m. bulletin from last night:

Julio 07 18:00h (Julio 7 23:00 GMT)

In the last 7 hours the monitoring system of Popocatepetl registered four hours of low-frequency and low-amplitude tremor that was accompanied by persistent emission of a column of water vapor, gases and small amounts of ash. In addition there have been 3 explosive events that have increased the emission of gases and ash. Additionally, a 1.9 magnitude volcanotectonic event was recorded. From 15:15 h until the time of this update the high-frequency tremor decreased slightly in amplitude (see seismogram).

Climatic conditions in the area did not allow visibility during most of the time.

Today, with support from the Secretaria de Marina-Armada de México a flight over the volcano was performed, during which it was determined that the activity of the last few days has resulted in the formation of a new lava dome that has filled the inner crater, reaching approximately 250 meters in diameter (see image 2).

The Volcanic Alert Level is at Yellow, Phase 3.

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July 7, 2013

Here is CENAPRED’s 11:00 h bulletin this morning, in English:

In the last 24 hours monitoring system of Popocatepetl volcano has registered a persistent episode of low-frequency tremor that fluctuates between low and high amplitude accompanied by almost continuous emission of steam, gas and ash that heads northwest.

Additionally, yesterday at 19:28 hours the monitoring system registered an explosion that was followed by an episode of high-amplitude harmonic tremor that lasted four hours.

There have also been isolated episodes of lower amplitude harmonic tremor lasting 50 minutes and some exhalations with explosive component, generating a slight increase in the emission of gases and ash. One of the most important could be seen today at 08:24 when there was partial visibility to the volcano (see Figure 1), (see seismogram).

Climatic conditions in the area had not allow visibility during most of the time.

The Volcanic Alert Level is at Yellow, Phase 3.

Boletin 177 SEGOB

CENAPRED places particular emphasis in the following recommendations:

1. Access is restricted within a radius of 12 km from the crater. Permanence in this area is not allowed.

2. The road between Santiago Xalitzintla (Puebla) and San Pedro Nexapa (Mexico State), including Paso de Cortes, is open only to controlled traffic.

3. To the authorities of Civil Protection, maintain preventive procedures, according to operative plans.

4. To the population, be aware of the official information emitted.

Popocatepetl Volcano is monitored continuously 24 hours a day.

According to news reports (Spanish), Operative Plan Popocatépetl (Spanish, PDF) has been activated in Puebla, with bases set up in the three towns closest to the volcano (indeed, these are close to if not a little inside the 12-km no-go zone, I think): Santiago Xalitzintla, San Pedro Benito Juarez and San Nicolas de los Ranchos.

NASA’s latest available public online SO2 image for Popocatépetl is from July 5th:

mexico_so2lf_5k_20130705

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July 7, 9:40 Eastern: Popo currently, from the Tlamacas cam:

CENAPRED

CENAPRED

As seen from Puebla:

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Popocatépetl from Mexico City.

Popocatépetl from Mexico City.

July 7, 2013, 8:27 a.m. Eastern

Yesterday CENAPRED raised the alert level to Yellow, Phase 3, which is the highest alert level before the red alert which triggers massive evacuations, so I decided to start live-blogging again.

Here is their update around 6 p.m. local last night – translated by me and Dr. Google – which includes a link to one of their seismograms:

July 06 18:15 h (July 6 23:15 GMT)

In the last 8 hours the Popocatéoetl monitoring system registered two hours of low-frequency , high-amplitude tremor which has been accompanied by persistent issue of a column of steam, gas and moderate amounts of ash. Additionally, there were 10 minutes of harmonic tremor and an explosion of moderate intensity (see seismogram). As of 13:30 h today, the low-frequency tremor amplitude decreased, diminishing the emission of gases and ash, which is kept in smaller quantities and is directed toward the northwest (see Figure 2).

To mark the increased activity of the volcano Popocateptl, in accordance referee between the National Coordination of Civil Protection of the Ministry of Interior, the National Center for Disaster Prevention and Scientific Advisory Committee determined to raise the Popocatepétl Volcano volcanic alert level from yellow phase 2 to yellow phase 3.

Bulletin 177 SEGOB

I have copied yesterday’s post below because that includes a spectacular infrared video that the scientists took during their July 5th overflight of the summit.

Why would volcanologists want to do such a dangerous thing as fly close to the summit of an erupting volcano? Well, CENAPRED didn’t tell us, but this amateur is guessing it might have had to do with intense curiosity about that hole in Popocatépetl’s summit crater.

The Hole Story

We picture volcanoes having a hole at the top that leads down to the magma chamber and through which the volcano erupts. That’s basically correct, although volcanoes can also erupt from the side and do other surprising things, which is why it’s a really bad idea to get too close to a volcano that’s under any kind of an alert.

Scientists use volcanic alert levels because they have some idea of what hazards a volcano may present, but they also use the system because they’re not omniscient. That is, they don’t know everything a volcano is capable of. I just wanted to mention that to make sure all of us show the same respect for an active volcano that scientists have, all of the time.

Anyway, some volcanoes, including Don Goyo, will have the hole in their summit filled because stuff that didn’t get erupted before the volcano settled down again just sat there and cooled off, turning into rock.

When the next eruption comes along, maybe only part of that rock will melt again. The result: a smaller hole in the floor of the summit crater. That is what Don Goyo has, or at least had near the end of June.

Popocatépetl’s Summit Crater

On a June 25 overflight, CENAPRED scientists discovered that explosions had enlarged Don Goyo’s summit crater to 250 meters wide and 60 meters deep (click to enlarge the image below).

Summit in May and June

This is just a guess, but perhaps the July 5 CENAPRED overflight was done in order to try to find out if there was still a hole in the summit crater floor or if the entire crater was now molten.

Since the volcano was erupting, there isn’t too much that this amateur can glean from the resulting images, including this one, from CENAPRED’s July 6th bulletin.

CENAPRED

CENAPRED

However, that probably tells volcanologists a lot about Don Goyo.

With the elevated alert level, CENAPRED will most likely be issuing at least 2 bulletins per day, and I will follow those here.

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Copy of July 6, 2013, post, including CENAPRED’s July 5th infrared video

There isn’t a lot of time tonight, but I did want to mention that CENAPRED raised the alert to Yellow, Phase 3 this afternoon.

Here are today’s bulletins, in English.

July 06 15:00 h (July 05, 20:00 GMT)

Because of the increased activity of the Popocatepetl volcano, the National Coordination of Civil Protection (CNPC) of the Ministry of Interior (SEGOB), the National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED) and Scientific Advisory Committee determined in agreement, to raise the volcanic alert level from yellow phase 2 to yellow phase 3.

The Volcanic Alert Level is at Yellow, Phase 3.

Boletin 177 SEGOB


July 06 11:00 h (July 05, 16:00 GMT)

In the last 24 hours monitoring system Popocatepetl volcano has registered 20 hours and low to high frecuency tremor, accompanied by a persistent emission of a column of gas and ash that reached 3 kilometer height, northwest direction. Aditionally the monitoring system has registered 4 hours of high intensity harmonic tremor. There were also 3 explosive events of moderate magnitude, the most important of which was presented this morning at 00:33 h. Due to weather conditions due to the weather it was not possible to observe the volcano during these events. However, in the early hours of the morning the continuous emission of gases and ash that reached more than 2 miles high and heading northwest was observed. (see image 1).

On the 5th, they did an overflight, which is pretty awesome, considering the increase in activity. Here is an infrared video from that, h/t to geologist Sergio Almazán.

Note that this looks like the end of the world, but it isn’t – the summit of any erupting volcano is very hot and is going to look like that. They are tightly focused in on the activity – it is a pretty awesome video!

More tomorrow morning, when there is more time.



Categories: volcanoes

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