Thursday, December 5, 2013

Not an answer... yet: When did the outflow reach the pyramid?

It looks a bit like the volcano is harder than I thought it would be!  

Usually, by this point, we have 10 or 12 comments.  Maybe it's just the December slows that are holding people back.  But in any case, I'll keep this challenge open for another day, just to see if we'll get any more comments / answers.  

As many people found, it's easy to get answers, but it's harder to judge credibility.  This is especially true for areas where you're not already an expert.  I know a bit about volcanos, but I'm scarcely a vulcanologist.  This happens a lot ("you're not an expert in <topic>"), especially with medical and health search problems.  

So we're left trying to figure out when a resource is credible or not.  This is a long discussion, but for this discussion we'll focus on known and respected agencies.  

For volcanos, the USGS (United States Geological Survey) is a well-known (and trusted) source.  Well-known universities (several people mentioned Oregon State University) are good resources... but it's worth a few seconds to verify that they actually have some depth in the topic.  (It only took me 1 minute to verify that they have a College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, with a specialty in volcanos.)  

I'll leave it as an exercise for you to find the Mexican equivalent of the government body that studies geological (and vulcanological) issues!  My point is that there are many organizations with points of view about this volcano--be sure your data is coming from a source you believe! 

Search on!

(Answer tomorrow.)

A recent eruption of this volcano...
Image linked from the Guardian (UK). 


  1. Query [ mexican agency volcano monitoring]

    CEOS (Committee on Earth Observation Satellites) looks like a huge conglomeration of agencies coming together to utilize satellites for environmental observations. It has a section specific to volcanoes and lists projects involved with CEOS for monitoring-
    Geo-hazards Supersites and Natural Laboratories, CSA Volcano Watch, EVOSS, NOAA Volcanic Cloud Monitoring and
    Global Volcano Model.

    Along with these projects we can gather the names of various people, institutes and agencies involved such as USGS, NOAA, NASA, along with several agencies worldwide. For the purposes of credibility it helps to identify key names related to our subject that in turn can lead us to other sites and support our findings.

    When I think of credibility I immediately think of Google Scholar. However when dealing with such a technical & complex subject such as volcano composition, structure & eruptions I find it easy to get swallowed up when viewing intellectual papers. For me knowing how to glean useful information for our searches from in-depth papers would be quite beneficial. I realize a key tool of course is the Control F. The ability to grab just enough information and remain focused on our purpose. Taking notes helps but I would like to improve in this area.

  2. Okay so I peaked my own curiosity and started to search out “research online for credible information. I find Journalists Resource and who is the research scientist identified as an expert in the subject of credible researching, our own Dr. Dan Russell. Now, I know this is a credible source and I will read in detail the website.

    1. Rosemary, that's a great resource. Thanks so much for directing our attention to it.

    2. Surprised me! Nice find, Rosemary!

  3. One of the websites that confirmed the 700-850 AD guesstimate was CENAPRED/UNAM Popocatépetl History. 800 AD is obviously not an exact date, but an approximation.

    So there's an official Geology agency saying 800 AD, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies doing radiocarbon dating with 700-850 AD results.

  4. Hello Dr. Russell and SRS.

    I did another SearchResearch after reading your post.

    After our Volcano started with "eruption" this 2013 and was in Phase Yellow 3; I found that a good resource is Volcano Discovery

    [Distancia erupciones Popocatepetl] and [Popo eruption distance]

    In English found:

    Potential for Large Eruptions at Popocatepetl that many of my peers found yesterday.

    How much pressure did it take to pop the top off Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano? Shows videos, maps and data based on volcanic plume of June 17, 2013

    In Spanish: Áreas de peligro por flujo de material volcánico Areas that could be affected by eruption. Pyramid is in the Moderate risk zone.

    In Spanish [desastres naturales piramide cholula] "Natural disasters Cholula Pyramid]
    El Popocatepetl y la Legendaria Lluvia de Fuego
    Mentions "Leyenda de los Soles"

    [Cholula pyramid eruption history]

    Book : Dangerous Neighbors: Volcanoes and Cities - Page 52 Base of Pyramid was buried by volcanic mudflows.

    Another pages with information about "Popo" -short of Popocatépetl. Featured volcano : Popocatepetl, Mexico Historia eruptiva del volcán Popocatépetl Cenapred is the agency that monitors Volcanoes in Mexico

    Photos of the Popo from Cenapred Cameras

  5. Once you had posted the picture of the volcano it was easy. Searched the image itself using Google Image (uploaded the picture) and it took me the Guardian's video. From there I searched the name of the volcano AND pyramid which led me to the American Institute of Archaeology & their peer reviewed journal Archaeology archive & gave me the names Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Great Pyramid of Cholula although the article stated that the names of the "gods" were not known. Next the composition : searched Popocatépetl caldera composition and found the Natural History Museum field work blogs : see the field notes diagram about half way down the blog. Major agency in Mexico Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)
    Date of last major lava eruption : searched "Great Pyramid of Cholula" lava and got 2 estimations : 1) in 2004 "the middle of the first century A.D" ; 2) last major eruption 965-880 years ago with .
    Potential for more : searched Popocatépetl potential for eruptions and got a University of Phillidelphia power point on the subject‎ and the older article Volcan Popocatepetl: Recent Eruptive History, and Potential Hazards and Risks in Future Eruptions .