After erupting more dramatically Monday and Tuesday than it has in 1,200 years, according to scientists, the Popocatepetl volcano 35 miles from Mexico City staged a sudden shutdown.

This was not the ominous pause that volcanologists had feared, which would have been accompanied by tremors indicating a dangerous buildup of internal pressure, but a return to a quieter state. Hopefully, this means that the eruptive period has ended without major loss of life or property damage. However, the Mexican government plans to provide residents with shelter outside of the danger area until after Christmas.

The volcano’s sudden reversal was unexpected. “It’s absolutely quiet, so much so that it’s as if we’re talking about another volcano,” said Guillermo Melgarejo, director of civil protection for Puebla state. “Its seismic activit, the tremors, have diminished considerably.”

Volcanologists theorized that the eruption had relieved pressure inside the volcano, and the feared clogging of lava tubes that could have led to a massive explosion had not taken place. Fernando Lopez, a spokesman for the Interior Secretariat said, “there will no longer be a big eruption,” but a spokesman for President Vincente Fox said that there was as yet no official declaration to that effect.

Throughout the eruptive period, ash blew south away from Mexico City, so the city appears to have been spared any danger or disruption from the volcano.

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