Mexico’s Popocatepetl Volcano Increases Activity, Warnings Issued
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Authorities in Mexico have raised the alert level for towns in two central states and the capital after an increased amount of explosive activity has occurred at Popocatepetl volcano, Mexico´s second highest peak at 17,900 feet.
The volcano, which sits about 50 miles southeast of the capital, began spewing steam and lava Saturday evening. Mexico´s National Disaster Prevention Center said an increase in activity was likely to occur and the country´s Interior Ministry raised the alert level from yellow phase two to yellow phase three on Sunday, the third-highest warning level on the center´s seven-step scale.
The government deployed soldiers and federal police to the area Sunday to be on standby in the event of a bigger eruption. A seven-square-mile zone was also closed off around the cone and authorities prepared evacuation shelters.
Popocatepetl has been producing smaller eruptions of ash almost daily since 1994. But eruptions began strengthening a few weeks ago, increasing even more over this past weekend. This change in activity could mean the volcano is on the verge of a much larger-scale eruption, capable of causing much more danger than what has currently been seen around the region.
Popocatepetl has had at least 15 major eruptions since the Spaniards arrived in 1519. The last major eruption occurred in 1947. Since becoming more active in 1994, the volcano has at several times produced increased activity, the most recent being on April 19, 2012 when superheated rock fragments were ejected into the air. The government put up increased threat levels shortly after the eruption.