June 18, 2013 2:00 pm
Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano—a huge volcano that sits to the southeast of Mexico City—has seen a recent burst of activity. A couple weeks ago the volcano started seeping gas and ash, and yesterday the volcano blew its top in a violent explosion.
The explosion was captured on video, and in this sped up time lapse you can clearly see the shockwave of the explosion fly out from peak—shaking the clouds and racing down the volcano’s slopes. A build-up of pressure from gases seeping out of the volcano’s magma is behind these kinds of explosions. “This is akin to popping the top off a shaken bottle of soda — the dissolved bubbles come out of solution rapidly as the pressure is released and you get an explosion of soda,” says volcanologist Erik Klemmeti. On his his blog, Klemetti describes what we’re seeing:
[T]hese explosions come with a lot of force, and you can see after the initial explosion is how the clouds of water vapor around Popocatepetl shudder as the explosion front moves past. Then quickly, the upper flanks of the volcano turn grey from the rapid raining out of ash and volcanic debris (tephra).
For now, a live stream from the volcano shows that it seems to have died down. Mexico’s National Center for Prevention of Disasters still has Popocatépetl rated at Yellow, Phase 2, meaning that people should avoid the area – the same rating it has had for the past few years.
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