“Smoking Mountain” is the eruption of Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano.


One of the most active volcanoes in Mexico is the Popocatépetl volcano – the Aztec word for “smoking mountain”

Since January 2005, a glacier-covered stratovolcano has been erupting, releasing frequent low-intensity gas, steam and ash.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this image of an ash cloud growing from Popocatépetl on January 2, 2021 (nicknamed El Popo).

On January 6, an ash cloud rising to about 6,400 meters above the volcano was confirmed by the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC). The National Center for Disaster Prevention of Mexico (CENAPRED), which tracks Popo continuously, cautioned people not to approach the volcano or its crater because pieces of ash and rock might fall. Some of the ashfall reached as far as the town of Puebla, about 45 kilometers from the volcano.

Popocatépetl is the second-highest volcano in Mexico (after Citlaltépetl), at 5,426 meters above sea level.

It consists of alternating deposits from past eruptions of volcanic ash, lava and rocks.

About 70 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Mexico City, the volcano is located and more than 20 million people live close enough to suffer a major eruption. Many eruptions have, however, been relatively mild over the past 600 years.

Lauren Dauphin’s NASA Earth Observatory image, using U.S. Landsat data Survey in Geology.


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