NASA has provided a spectacular view of the volcano known as Popocatépetl, or more colloquially Popo, blowing steam. The usually calm volcano was spotted by NASA’s Landsat satellite steaming from its source. The image from NASA was taken on January 2 and shows the plume of steam rising into the air.
On January 6, the volcano then erupted, blowing ash more than 6,000 metres into the air.
Locals have now been warned to stay away from the volcano.
NASA said on its Earth Observatory website: “On January 2, 2021, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this image of a plume rising from Popocatépetl (nicknamed Popo).
“On January 6, the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported a volcanic ash plume that rose to around 6,400 meters (21,000 feet) above the volcano.
“Mexico’s National Center for Prevention of Disasters (CENAPRED), which continuously monitors Popo, warned people not to approach the volcano or its crater due to falling ash and rock fragments.
“Some ashfall was blown downwind to the city of Puebla, located about 45 kilometres (30 miles) away from the volcano.”
At 5,426 metres tall, Popo, which is some 44 miles (70km) away from the capital Mexico City, is the second-largest volcano in North America.
More than 20 million people live in the city and would be under threat if the volcano were to have a major eruption.
However, experts say it does not pose a huge threat to locals due to its usually dormant nature
NASA said: “Most of the eruptions in the past 600 years have been relatively mild.”
But the volcano has been blowing out steam since 2005.
NASA added: “The glacier-clad stratovolcano has been erupting since January 2005, with daily low-intensity emissions of gas, steam, and ash.”
In 2018, Popo erupted for the first time since 2000 when ash was propelled 3,000 metres into the sky. Since then, there have been several eruptions.