Mt. Popocatapetl, the restless volcano 35 miles from Mexico City, has once again begun erupting. On Monday, January 21, the volcano sent a massive plume of smoke and ash to an altitude of 25,000 feet. According to the Mexican volcanologists, the volcano experienced an earthquake measuring 2.8 on the Richter scale Monday afternoon. 17 minutes later, there was an eruption of steam, followed by the emission of the ash cloud.
Since 1994, Popo has been in an eruptive state, with unpredictable periods of activity that have gradually been increasing. On December 12, 2000, the volcano experienced its worst eruption in 1,200 years. As a result, over 40,000 people living within the danger zone evacuated the area.
Residents, who had long since returned, were startled by the sudden increase in activity that took place on Monday. There were no plans for further evacuations, and there is no evidence that the volcano is likely to explode, although the earthquake is an indication that magma is again in motion within subsurface structures associated with it.
The volcano would not pose danger to Mexico City unless it exploded or emitted a truly massive amount of ash. Popo is one of the world's largest volcanoes, and potentially capable of an enormous eruption.
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