Volcano Popocatepel, Mexico is Erupting

22.8 Miles From Mexico City



Safe distance

The distance you have to evacuate depends entirely on what kind of eruption is going on. For example, Pinatubo, one of the largest recent eruptions sent pyroclastic flows at least 18 km down its flanks, and pumice falls were hot and heavy even beyond that. For example, pumice 7 cm across fell at Clark Air base which is 25 km from the volcano! A 7 cm pumice won’t necessarily kill you but it does mean that there is a lot of pumice falling, and if you don’t get out and continuously sweep off your roof it may fall in and you’ll get squashed.On the other hand, the current eruption at Ruapehu is relatively small. In fact, there were skiers up on the slopes when the eruptions commenced, and even though they were only 1-2 km from the vent they managed to escape. The volcanologists routinely go up on the higher slopes of Ruapehu during these ongoing eruptions to collect ash and take photographs.

So you see, you need to know something about what you think the volcano is going to do before you decide how far to run away. I guess if you have no idea of what the volcano is planning, and have no idea of what it has done in the past, you might want to be at least 16–19 miles away, make sure you have a good escape route to get even farther away if necessary, and by all means stay out of low-lying areas!

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