Recurrent Mudflows at Popocatepetl Volcano: Impact on the Population over several Thousand Years and possible Precursors.
Abstract:Popocatepetl Volcano in central Mexico has been erupting since 1994 with relatively small Strombolian and Vulcanian eruptions, expect for the 2 larger eruptions in 1997 and 2001 that produced more widespread pumice and ash fall, mud flows and in 2001, pumice flows. As part of the recent studies that have focused on monitoring eruptive behavior for risk reduction in this heavily populated area, we are updating the Hazard Map (1995).
Here we present the results of the new data for the northwestern sector of the volcano where large mudflows reached 40km from the volcano toward Mexico City (14Ka). The 5Ka mudflows are overlain by several flows that covered pre-Columbian pre-classic settlements at around 2Ka BP. Buildings with ceramics from the classic and postclassic periods (around 1.5Ka and 0.9Ka BP) also indicate that settlements were abandoned and resettled several hundred years later. So far, it seems that inhabitants fled at the beginning of these larger eruptions, since no bodies have been found in the excavations. Since the XVI century, several smaller mudflows have reached the towns, but many are related with secondary deposits (for example, the Nexapa 2010 mudflow reached 15 km from the crater). Although this area has been inhabited for thousands of years, increased population shows that risk is considerable.