Couple embraces as the Popocatepetl volcano spews a cloud of ash and steam high into the air as seen from Puebla
Scientists have recorded volcanic activity beginning on Tuesday in Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano, which lies southeast of Mexico City. Reuters

Scientists have recorded volcanic activity beginning on Tuesday in Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano, which lies southeast of Mexico City. Government officials have raised the alert level for the surrounding area, in preparation of a possible eruption.

On Tuesday, officials placed a Yellow Level 3 alert at the volcano. This means that they expect explosive activity of an intermediate to high scale. The next stage is a red alert. If scientists increase the level of alert, evacuations could begin, reported the Associated Press.

The Mexican government and local residents have been taking appropriate safety precautions as the volcano began spewing fragments of rock, reported Reuters. Activity decreased overnight, but Mexico's National Center for the Prevention of Disasters said they recorded eight vapor releases. The most serious occurred around 9 a.m. Sunday, sending vapor cloud a mile into the air, reported the Houston Chronicle.

On Monday night, the center said that surrounding areas could experience significant explosions of growing intensity that hurl incandescent rocks significant distances, reported the Associated Press.

Tuesday morning, the center recorded a low amplitude tremor coming from Popocatépetl that lasted about 40 minutes, reported CNN.

If it explodes, scientists are expecting an eruption of lava and spewing of ash if the volcano explodes, possibly endangering nearby villages and Mexico's capital, Mexico City. Scientists said they could also expected large amounts of ash and mud and lava to spew from the top.

The 17,886-foot high volcano has been causing trouble recently as researchers have witnessed explosions of rock, water vapor and ash. The volcano's latest activity comes after a series of earthquakes struck southern and central Mexico in the past three weeks, reported the Houston Chronicle. On March 20, a 7.4 quake damaged hundreds of buildings in Oaxaca and Guerrero.

The volcano, which means Smoking Mountain in the native tongue of the Aztecs, is an active volcano that experiences exhalations often.

Although it is more than 40 miles from Mexico City, Popocatépetl dominates the Valley of Mexico and the surrounding highlands, home to some 25 million people, reported the Houston Chronicle.