This spectacular footage shows an explosive eruption of lava-like materials from Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano – rated as one of the ten most dangerous in the world.
Recorded by volcanologists, it shows incandescent fragments shooting over the sides of the crater and exploding, as a tower of gas and ash soars two kilometres (1.2 miles) up into the sky.
Experts said it indicated that lava was forming inside the volcano, raising fears of its first major eruption of lava in 13 years.
Video Credit: CEN/@webcamsdemexico
“This type of activity is associated with the formation of lava domes like the one that was formed last November,” one said on Facebook.
Mexico’s National Centre for Prevention of Disasters flew over the volcano to monitor activity as recently as last month when it said there was no visible sign of lava.
But, following the latest eruption, a yellow alert – meaning residents should prepare for a possible evacuation – has been issued to the communities nearest to the volcano. About 380,000 people live within 25 kilometres (15 miles) of Popocatepetl.
It indicates there is a strong likelihood of ash raining down on nearby communities and a low to medium risk of pyroclastic flows or mud flows reaching people’s homes.
Resident are warned to cover their nose and mouth with a wet handkerchief, and to rinse their eyes and throats with clean water. They are also advised not to wear contact lenses, to keep windows closed and to stay inside.
The volcano, which straddles the states of Puebla and Morelos in central Mexico, lies 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the national capital, Mexico City, from where it can be seen on a clear day.
Popocatepetl, which means ‘mountain that smokes’ in the traditional Nahuatl language, is monitored 24 hours per day with four different video cameras broadcasting its activity in real time.
The volcano, also known by the name of Don Goyo, started its current intense phase of activity around 1994 with lava emissions and ash explosions.
It is the second highest peak in Mexico, at 5,452 metres (17887 feet), and its crater is around 900 metres (2,952 feet) in diameter and 150 metres (492 feet) deep.
It is considered one of the 10 most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Scientists at the University of Manchester recently rated it the fifth most likely to see a major eruption.