Popocatepetl Volcano An Ongoing Concern

The Popocatepetl Volcano in Mexico is an ongoing concern for officials and residents. As the volcano continues to spew smoke, lava, and ash, experts remain on alert.

The 17,886-foot-tall volcano is Mexico’s second tallest, and recent indications are concerning. True to its name “smoking mountain,” Popocatepetl sent up a plume of ash last month, coating a nearby village and grounding flights.

As reported by The Epoch Times, Mexico’s National Disaster Prevention Center laboratory has been monitoring the situation closely. Predicting an eruption is not an exact science. However, technicians use several factors to determine probability.

Technical director Gilberto Castelan explains:

“The volcano is like a patient, and we observe the different aspects… over 60 indicators in real-time.”

Equipment includes remote live cameras, seismographs, and machines that monitor gasses in the air.

Eruption danger is indicated using a system of three colors. A “red” alert would prompt an immediate evacuation. Luckily, red alerts are rare. The current level is yellow-2, which warns officials and residents to remain alert.

The Popocatepetl Volcano has been active for more than 500,000 years. The last major eruption was 23,000 years ago.

As reported by Boston.com, the most recent activity has been observed over the last 21 years. After lying dormant for nearly 70 years, the volcano suddenly began spewing smoke and ash.

Ramon Espinasa, director of geological hazards, explains that Popocatepetl is “among the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.”

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An eruption would affect over 10,000 residents who live in villages around the base. Three villages are within 10 miles of the volcano, and would likely be buried in ash and molten rock.

A major eruption could affect the lives of 20 million residents.

Around 15 technicians are monitoring the volcano for increased activity. Although they do not anticipate an eruption in the near future, they want to make sure residents have a chance to evacuate if it happens.

The Popocatepetl Volcano is an ongoing concern. However, officials are working around the clock to make sure residents have a fair warning in the event of an eruption.

[Image via Flickr]