Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I'd be talking to my realtor right about now

Imagine that you live in Mexico City, one of the largest cities in the world, and a mere 40 miles from the Popocatepetl volcano. Then imagine you read this story:

Mexico's giant Popocatepetl volcano threw up an ash column almost 2 miles high and spat glowing rocks down its snow-clad slopes on Sunday, but nearby towns were not affected, officials said. Popocatepetl, whose name means "smoking mountain" in the Nahuatl Indian language spoken by the Aztecs, spewed out the huge plume of ash and rocks in a three-minute exhalation. "The recent activity is within the expected scenarios and there is no evidence of a major risk in the following days," said the disaster prevention center Conapred. "No reports of ash fall have been received." Sunday's activity was the latest in a recent series of disturbances which started December 1, when the 17,887 foot (5,452 meter) volcano showered ash on the nearby town of Amecameca. Popocatepetl, which on clear days can be seen from Mexico City, 40 miles away and home to some 18 million people, reawakened in 1994 after decades of inactivity. It has sparked to life several times since then, most notably in 2000 when it tossed red-hot rocks far above its crater in a series of explosions. Tens of thousands of people living nearby were evacuated at that time. Scientists say the volcano's last major eruption was more than 1000 years ago, while the Valley of Mexico's pre-Hispanic Aztec residents recorded minor eruptions. The volcano becomes more active during the cooler Mexican winter months as more ice expands and causes fissures in solidified lava in the crater, allowing smoke, ash or molten lava to spew out.
This really gives new meaning to that old expression about living life on the edge of a volcano, doesn't it? I strongly believe, whether this belief is scientifically valid or not, that, when a long dormant volcano starts to speak, it's time for me to start to listen. Incidentally, God forbid Popocatepetl blows, that's not just a problem for those citizens caught immediately in its path, it's a problem for everyone. This is because, if it's a sufficiently dirty eruption, it has the potential to damage crop outputs around the world -- as happened in 1815 when Mount Tambora blew its top. Mother Nature has been working hard lately to let us know that she's in charge.