Popocatepetl Volcano Live Feed: Technicians Rate Eruption Activity At Yellow-2 [PHOTO, VIDEO, LIVE FEED]

By Staff Reporter on August 1, 2013 5:21 PM EDT

Popocatepetl Volcano
Popocatepetl Volcano eruptions have Mexico on edge. Watch the live feed on the eruptions here. (Photo: Cenapred)

Popocatepetl Volcano is under heavy surveillance as a team of disaster prevention specialists determine its eruptions and seismic activity. As the second highest volcano of Mexico, a violent eruption from Popocatepetl Volcano stands to affect as many as 20 million Mexicans.

Popocatepetl Volcano is located in the middle of two metro areas as Mexco City lies to the north west and Pueblo lies at the south east of the volcano. To demonstrate the significance of Popocatepetl over the Mexico metro area, an enormous ash plume clouded over Mexico City and the neighboring city of Pueblo on the other side of the volcano in 2003. For the past two decades, Mexico's National Disaster Prevention Center laboratory has been monitoring the volcano around the clock. 

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Popocatepetl Volcano is Aztec language Nahuatl for "Smoking Mountain." The Mexican volcano is currently spewing hot rock, steam, and ash at an altitude up to 17,886 feet high. Even though lava flow or glowing rock will not travel very far, a substantial volcanic explosion can result to landslides and hot gas that spell the death of as many as 11,000 residents located at the three farming villages all within 10 miles from the base of Popocatepetl Volcano.

"The volcano is like a patient, and we observe the different aspects," said the center's technical director Gilberto Castelan. "Here we receive over 60 indicators in real time." 

To better facilitate the technicians surveillance tasks, the Mexico's National Disaster Prevention Center laboratory has positioned five remote-controlled cameras to capture real-time images. Sensors also deliver seismographic data to the crew and geologists to better understand Popocatepetl. 

A "volcano stoplight" is a three-color system that categorizes the volatility of the volcano. Green represents little activity, yellow warns technicians to stay alert, and red signals a mandatory evacuation process. Currently, Popocatepetl Volcano is at Yellow-2.

"It's one of the most advanced laboratories of its kind in the world, and the scientists in charge are using the best methods," said volcanologist Michael Sheridan of University of Buffalo in New York. "It is very difficult to predict the behavior of a volcano that has not had an eruption in recent history."

Surveillance over Popocatepetl Volcano is of utmost importance as the volcano has been active for at least 500,000 years and have experienced at least three eruptions as strong as Mount St. Helens' eruption of 1980, which killed 57.

"Considering the number of people who would be affected, it could be considered among the most dangerous volcanos in the world," said Ramon Espinasa, director of geological hazards for the disaster prevention center.

Be sure to follow the developments of Popocatepetl Volcano by visiting Cenapred, which updates the image of the volcano every minute. However, strong eruptions may prevent the transmission of the feed.

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