Popocatepetl

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April 18, 2012:
Eruption gains worldwide attention.

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According to our friends at Wikipedia, Popocateptl is one of the most violent volcanoes in Mexico, visible from Mexico City, and since 1993 smoke has been seen coming out of the crater. There have been multiple eruptions at Popocatepetl, and the name Popocatepetl comes from the Nahuatl Indian words popōca meaning 'it smokes' and tepētl meaning 'mountain', so "Smoking Mountain" would be the English version of the name, which is fairly apt.

Where is the Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico?

Eruption has locals preparing evacuation.

Red hot fragments of rock have begun spewing out of the Popocatepetl volcano, leading Mexico authorities to raise the alert level around the volcano itself. Scientists say that the change in activity could lead to the release of incandescent clouds, ash flows, and other highly dangerous conditions. Volcanoes of this type can release searing ash cloud avalanches that can move for miles in any direction, incinerating whatever comes into their path. Furthermore, volcanic ash can rain down on areas downwind of the volcano, which can lead to severe breathing problems and even death. Aircraft generally have to avoid volcanic ash since it can collect in jet engines and turn into a glassy substance that causes the engines to fail, as well as causing severe wear on the components themselves. The Popocatepetl volcano erupted in the year 2000, leading to evacuations, and the 2012 eruption could be a sign of an upcoming explosive event. This volcano follows a series of high profile earthquakes in Southern Mexico, and whether the volcanic eruption is directly related to the earthquakes or a coincidence will be up to the scientists studying the phenomenon. With any luck, we won't discover that the Mayan calendar was too early.

Notes and Special Information

Special note: North American volcanoes can be more unpredictable and dangerous than their counterparts around the world so be careful when getting too close to the volcanoes themselves.