As of December 24, low-level exhalations of gas and steam remain the only sign of activity within the Popocatepetl volcano 35 miles from Mexico City. However, experts continue to warn that the volcano is dangerous, and have predicted another significant eruption for the near future.
The volcano’s action over the past few days has been extraordinary. On Monday and Tuesday, Popo erupted more violently than it has in 1,200 years, sending 40,000 area residents hurrying to shelters prepared for them by the Mexican government. Then, on Wednesday, the volcano unexpectedly became quiet, prompting some authorities to announce that the danger was over.
On Thursday, however, internal activity began to pick up, with additional disturbing evidence that the Monday and Tuesday eruptions may have blocked lava tubes that enable the venting of matter from within and insure that an eruption will not become a catastrophic explosion.
Should Popo explode, it would potentially jeopardize people throughout the Valley of Mexico and beyond. The damage to property from falling ash would be of historic proportions, and world climate would be affected even more dramatically than happened with Mt. Pinatubo, which erupted catastrophically on June 15, 1991, killing over 500 people. As much as two cubic miles of ash were ejected into the atmosphere, causing a significant cooling of world climate.
Popocatepetl is capable of ejecting far more material into the atmosphere in a catastrophic explosion, and jeopardizing the lives of many millions of people.
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