Observed inflation-deflation cycles at Popocatepetl volcano using tiltmeters and its possible correlation with regional seismic activity in Mexico

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Moises Gerardo Contreras Ruiz Esparza Sr, Juan Carlos Jimenez Velazquez Sr., Carlos Miguel Valdes Gonzalez Sr., Thalia Alfonsina Reyes Pimentel and Sergio Alberto Galaviz Alonso, Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres, Mexico City, Mexico
Popocatepetl, the smoking mountain, is a stratovolcano located in central Mexico with an elevation of 5450 masl. The active volcano, close to some of the largest urban centers in Mexico - 60 km and 30 km far from Mexico City and Puebla, respectively - poses a high hazard to an estimated population of 500 thousand people living in the vicinity of the edifice. Accordingly, in July 1994 the Popocatepetl Volcanological Observatory (POVO) was established. The observatory is operated and supported by the National Center for Disaster Prevention of Mexico (CENAPRED), and is equipped to fully monitor different aspects of the volcanic activity. Among the instruments deployed, we use in this investigation two tiltmometers and broad-band seismometers at two sites (Chipiquixtle and Encinos), which send the information gathered continuously to Mexico City.

In this research, we study the characteristics of the tiltmeters signals minutes after the occurrence of certain earthquakes. The Popocatepetl volcano starts inflation-deflation cycles due to the ground motion generated by events located at certain regions. We present the analysis of the tiltmeters and seismic signals of all the earthquakes (Mw>5) occurred from January 2013 to June 2014, recorded at Chipiquixtle and Encinos stations. First, we measured the maximum tilt variation after each earthquake. Next, we apply a band-pass filter for different frequency ranges to the seismic signals of the two seismic stations, and estimated the total energy of the strong motion phase of the seismic record. Finally, we compared both measurements and observed that the maximum tilt variations were occurring when the maximum total energy of the seismic signals were in a specific frequency range. We also observed that the earthquake records that have the maximum total energy in that frequency range were the ones with a epicentral location south-east of the volcano. We conclude that our observations can be used set the ground for an early warning sytem of the Popocatepetl volcano.