Mexico Volcano Eruption: Popocatépetl Spews Ash, Is It Dangerous? [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 5, 2013 5:38 PM EDT

volcano
The Popocatépetl volcano sent bursts of ash and steam into the air on Thursday, July 4, causing airlines to cancel flights into Mexico City. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano sent bursts of steam and ash into the air on Thursday, causing airlines to cancel flights into Mexico City.

Officials at Benito Juarez International airport said ash from the Popocatépetl volcano had not reached the air over the airport, but several airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines, halted flights into Mexico city as a precaution.

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On July 4, almost 100 "exhalations," or small explosions, occurred at the crater of the Popocatépetl volcano, sending dustings of ash into communities near the volcano.

But is the ash from the Popocatépetl volcano actually dangerous?

Mexico City civil protection secretary Fausto Lugo said that the biggest risk from the Popocatépetl volcano is a fairly minor one: people not knowing to do if ash settles on their property, as well as their water getting contaminated from ash.

"If there is an eruption, we wouldn't evacuate Mexico City," Lugo said. "For us the main risk is the handling of volcanic ashes."

A 7-mile safety radius has been established around the Popocatépetl volcano. No one is permitted to enter the safety radius, and cars are prohibited from going into the Paseo de Cortes, a mountain pass between the Popocatepetl volcano and Iztaccihuatl volcano.

Last month a three-mile-high plume of ash eruputed from Popocatépetl volcano,

Popocatépetl is an Aztec word meaning "smoking mountain." The volcano is one of Mexico's most active, but the last major eruption occurred in 1947. Since 1994, Popocatépetl volcano has erupted several times, spewing ash almost every day.

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