Located approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) to the northeast of Puebla, Mexico, the summit of Volcán la Malinche rises to an elevation of 4,461 meters (14,636 feet) above sea level. This photograph by an astronaut on the International Space Station highlights the snow-dusted summit and the deep canyons that cut into the flanks of this eroded stratovolcano.
Activity at La Malinche has not been noted in any known historical accounts, but radiometric dating of volcanic rocks and deposits associated with the structure indicate an eruption occurred near the end of the 12th century. There is also evidence that lahars, or mudflows, associated with an eruption about 3,100 years ago affected Pre-Columbian settlements in the nearby Puebla basin.
The volcano is enclosed within La Malinche National Park and situated within the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala. Extensive green forest cover is visible on the lower flanks of the volcano. Access to the volcano is available by roadway, so the peak is frequently used for training by climbers prior to attempts on higher summits. The rectangular outlines of farms are visible in an outer ring around the forested area.
The volcano lies within the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, a tectonically active region with several current and historically active volcanoes, including Popocatépetl to the west and Pico de Orizaba to the east. While La Malinche appears to be quiescent, its location and relatively recent (in geological terms) eruptive activity suggest that future activity is possible and could potentially pose a threat to the city of Puebla.
Astronaut photograph ISS037-E-22473 was acquired on October 29, 2013, with a Nikon D3X digital camera using a 1000 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 37 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, Jacobs at NASA-JSC.