Caught on camera: The moment giant Mexican volcano pops its top


posted Friday, June 21, 2013 at 11:31 PM EST

Digital cameras are everywhere these days, and their pervasive nature has had a pretty cool side effect. Things that just a couple of decades ago you'd have been unlikely to see are now frequently caught on camera, and placed online for your viewing pleasure.

Such is the case with the recent eruption of Mexico's Popocatépetl, a stratovolcano located around 40 miles from Mexico City. North America's second-tallest volcano, Popocatépetl has been increasingly active over the last couple of years, with numerous eruption events recorded by VolcanoDiscovery. Volcanologists have been expecting another eruption for a while now, as frequent ash releases and tremors -- including a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in the early hours of Sunday -- suggested a significant build-up of pressure.

That eruption finally came shortly after lunch on Monday, and it was a big one. (VolcanoDiscovery reported it as likely the largest in the current activity cycle.) A plume of ash soared two and a half miles in the sky over Popocatépetl, preceded by a shock wave that rolled across the surrounding landscape. The folks at Webcams de Mexico had a camera aimed at Popocatépetl, and at the crucial moment it was rolling. Watch the truly spectacular timelapse video caught by that webcam, below.

Earlier this week, Popocatépetl finally erupted -- and Webcams de Mexico caught the whole event on a time-lapse webcam video.

Want to stay up to date with the situation at Popocatépetl, and any further eruptions? Watch the live webcam feed from Webcams de Mexico, or get updates from Volcano Discovery.