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The Tacaná Volcanic Complex represents the northernmost active volcano of the Central American Volcanic Arc. The genesis of this volcanic chain is related to the subduction of the Cocos plate beneath the Caribbean plate. The Tacaná Volcanic Complex is influenced by an important tectonic structure as it lies south of the active left-lateral strike-slip Motozintla fault related to the Motagua-Polochic fault zone. The geological evolution of the Tacaná Volcanic Complex and surrounding areas is grouped into six major sequences dating from the Mesozoic to Recent. The oldest basement rocks are Mesozoic schists and gneisses of low-grade metamorphism. These rocks are intruded by Tertiary granites, granodiorites, and tonalites ranging in age from 12 to 39 Ma, apparently separated by a gap of 9 m.y. The first intrusive phase occurred during late Eocene to early Oligocene, and the second during early to middle Miocene. These rocks are overlain by deposits from the Calderas San Rafael (ca. 2 Ma), Chanjale (ca. 1 Ma), and Sibinal (unknown age), grouped under the name Chanjale–San Rafael Sequence, of late Pliocene–Pleistocene age. The activity of these calderas produced thick block-and-ash flows, ignimbrites, lavas, and debris flows. The Tacaná Volcanic Complex began its formation during the late Pleistocene, nested in the preexisting San Rafael Caldera. The Tacaná Volcanic Complex formed through the emplacement of four volcanic centers. The first, Chichuj volcano, was formed by andesitic lava flows and pyroclastic deposits, after which it was destroyed by the collapse of the edifice. The second, Tacaná volcano, formed through the emission of basaltic-andesite lava flows, as well as andesitic and dacitic domes that produced extensive block-and-ash flows ∼38,000, 28,000, and 16,000 yr B.P. The Plan de las Ardillas structure (the third volcanic center) consists of an andesitic dome with two lava flows emplaced on the high slope of the Tacaná ∼30,000 yr B.P. Finally, the San Antonio volcanic center was built through the emission of lava flows, andesitic and dacitic domes, and it was destroyed by a Peléan eruption at 1950 yr B.P. that produced a block-and-ash flow deposit. The Tacaná Volcanic Complex was emplaced along a NE-SW trend beginning with Chichuj, followed by Tacaná, Las Ardillas, and San Antonio. This direction is roughly the same as the NE-SW Tacaná graben (as proposed in this work), together with other faults and fractures exposed in the region. The rocks of the Chanjale-San Rafael Sequence and the Tacaná Volcanic Complex have a calc-alkaline signature with medium K contents, negative anomalies of Nb, Ti, and P, and enrichment in light rare earth elements, typical of subduction zones.

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