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article imageMexico's Popocatépetl volcano awakens, authorities raise alert

By Leigh Goessl     Apr 17, 2012 in World
Mexico - Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano has begun to show increased signs of awakening, and yesterday authorities raised the alert level.
The volcano, located approximately 50 miles southeast of Mexico City, is currently not in a state of slumber. According to Reuters, Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention noted Popocatépetl's lava dome began to expand on Friday, and there is concern an explosion may be imminent.
Mexican authorities have raised the alert level from a yellow phase two, up to a yellow phase three; this is the third-highest warning, Reuters reported.
The Houston Chronicle reported Popocatépetl spewed "at least seven exhalations" between Saturday night and Sunday. One vapor cloud shot up a mile into the sky.
While Popocatépetl has shown regular activity so far this year, and is not a dormant volcano in general, this has been the highest level of action so far from the volcano in 2012.
Citizens are on alert to stay away from the vicinity of the volcano, and authorities have advised people to remain at least seven miles away from Popocatépetl's crater. The Chronicle reported the agency said "moderate exhalations, some with ash, sporadic low to moderate explosions with likely burning fragments emitted close to the crater, and flaming magma within the crater visible at night."
This potential eruption comes in the midst of several recent earthquakes in Mexico. This week, several earthquakes have occurred globally, as reported by Digital Journal.
Popocatépetl is described as an "active" and "violent" volcano and showed similar activity last year. At this point authorities appear to be very cautious that with so much recent activity, the volcano may be getting ready for a full eruption.
The Popocatépetl volcano is 5,455 meters (about 17,900 feet) high. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than tens of millions of people reside "within view" of Popocatépetl.
USGS notes Popocatépetl is routinely active and previously has experienced strong activity, enough to evacuate the area in both 1994 and 2000. It also had an eruption in 2010 and, if a major eruption occurs, this would be a serious situation to residents and also those flying in and out from Mexico City international airport.
Officials are carefully monitoring Popocatépetl's activity in the event the volcano decides to fully awaken. While ash is falling in some communities, UPI reported yesterday Jesus Hernandez Mendoza, head of the Regional State Civil Protection Institute, indicated at this time there is no cause for alarm as the volcano's seismic activity "was within scenarios provided by Mexico's Scientific Advisory Board."
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