Popocatepetl is an active stratovolcano located in Central Mexico, approximately 40 miles (70 km) southeast of Mexico City. Its name is derived from the Nahuatl words popōca, “it smokes,” and tepētl, “mountain,” meaning “Smoking Mountain”. At 5,426 m (17,802 ft), it is the second highest peak in Mexico after Pico de Orizaba (5,636 m/18,491 ft).
Popocatepetl has been active for over 2,000 years and has had numerous eruptions, with the latest in 2019. This volcano is considered to be a dangerous threat, as it is located close to many large cities including Mexico City. Small earthquakes have been recorded on a daily basis since the late 1990s, while larger (magnitude 5+) earthquakes have been recorded since the mid 2018s.
Popocatepetl is monitored closely by the Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres (CENAPRED) and other government agencies. In the event of an eruption, the local government has developed a detailed emergency response plan.
The volcano has an observation post known as the “Campamento Tlamacas”. This is located at a safe distance from the volcano and manned by scientists and other personnel on a full-time basis. They monitor and analyze the activity of the volcano for researchers worldwide.
Popocatepetl is a popular destination for hikers and climbers, as well as for those who want to get close to an active volcano. Climbing routes have been established up to the summit, and there are several campsites and shelters around the mountain. For those who want to take in the views, the volcano is accessible by road.