Popocatépetl is one of Mexico`s most active volcanoes and the most famous with more than 15 major eruptions since the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519. The geological history of Popocatépetl began with the formation of the ancestral volcano Nexpayantla. About 200,000 years ago, Nexpayantla collapsed during an eruption, leaving behind a caldera in which the nearest volcano, known as El Fraile, began to form. Another eruption, about 50,000 years ago, caused the rupture, and popocatépetl increased. About 23,000 years ago, a lateral eruption (probably larger than the eruption of Mount St. Helena in 1980) destroyed the volcano`s ancient cone and caused an avalanche up to 70 kilometres from the summit. The debris field is one of four around the volcano, and it is also the youngest.  We use a combination of microanalytic techniques, including electron microwaves and ICP-MS laser microphones, to determine the chemical composition of individual minerals and trace elements. We also collect high-resolution images using techniques such as grid electron microscopy (EMS). We study the origins of the Earth, the environment and the evolution of life Newton Funds – Royal Society International Exchange Funds Our research focuses on understanding why popocatétpetls eruptions change from moderate to large format, and determining the time scales on which these switches occur. We hope to see if the volcano`s current explosive activity will culminate with an eruption in the Plianies.
The museum`s rocky collection consists of approximately 123,000 samples collected worldwide Several works by Dr. Atl show popocatépetl, including his 1928 „self-portrait with popocatépetl“ now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and his 1942 Shadow of Popo at the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City. We use mass spectrometry to determine isotope variations within samples, and techniques such as micro-drilling in combination with mass spectrometry to determine isotopic variations in situ. The name Popocatépetl comes from the pronunciation of nahuatl popca nahuatl: „he smokes“ and tepet Nahuatl: [ˈtepeːt͡ɬ] „mountain“, which means „raucherberg“. The volcano is also affectionately referred to by Mexicans El Popo, or to cut the full name.