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Book Chapter

Geology and eruptive history of some active volcanoes of México

By
José Luis Macías
José Luis Macías
1
Departamento de Vulcanología, Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Coyoacán 04510, México D.F
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Published:
January 01, 2007

Most of the largest volcanoes in México are located at the frontal part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and in other isolated areas. This chapter considers some of these volcanoes: Colima, Nevado de Toluca, Popocatépetl, Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltépetl), and Tacaná. El Chichón volcano is also considered within this group because of its catastrophic eruption in 1982. The volcanic edifice of these volcanoes, or part of it, was constructed during the late Pleistocene or even during the Holocene: Colima 2500 yr ago, Pico de Orizaba (16,000 yr), Popocatépetl (23,000 yr), Tacaná (∼26,000 yr), and Nevado de Toluca (>45,000). The modern cones of Colima, Popocatépetl, Pico de Orizaba, and Tacaná are built inside or beside the remains of older caldera structures left by the collapse of ancestral cones. Colima, Popocatépetl, and Pico de Orizaba represent the youngest volcanoes of nearly N-S volcanic chains. Despite the repetitive history of cone collapse of these volcanoes, only Pico de Orizaba has been subjected to hydrothermal alteration and slope stability studies crucial to understand future potential events of this nature.

The magmas that feed these volcanoes have a general chemical composition that varies from andesitic (Colima and Tacaná), andesitic-dacitic (Nevado de Toluca, Popocatépetl, and Pico de Orizaba) to trachyandesitic (Chichón). These magmas are the result of several magmatic processes that include partial melting of the mantle, crustal assimilation, magma mixing, and fractional crystallization. So far, we know very little about the deep processes that occurred between the upper mantle source and the lower crust. However, new data have been acquired on shallower processes between the upper crust and the surface. There is clear evidence that most of these magmas stagnated at shallow magma reservoirs prior to eruption; these depths vary from 3 to 4 km at Colima volcano, 4.5–6 km at Nevado de Toluca, and ∼6–8 km at Chichón volcano.

Over the past 15 years, there has been a surge of studies dealing with the volcanic stratigraphy and eruptive history of these volcanoes. Up to the present, no efforts have achieved integration of the geological, geophysical, chemical, and petro logical information to produce conceptual models of these volcanoes. Therefore, we still have to assume the size and location of the magma chambers, magma ascent paths, and time intervals prior to an eruption. Today, only Colima and Popocatépetl have permanent monitoring networks, while Pico de Orizaba, Tacaná, and Chichón have a few seismic stations. Of these, Popocatépetl, Colima, and Pico de Orizaba have volcanic hazard maps that provide the basic information needed by the civil defense authorities to establish information programs for the population as well as evacuation plans in case of a future eruption.

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GSA Special Papers

Geology of Me´xico: Celebrating the Centenary of the Geological Society of Me´xico

Susana A. Alaniz-Álvarez
Susana A. Alaniz-Álvarez
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Ángel F. Nieto-Samaniego
Ángel F. Nieto-Samaniego
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Geological Society of America
Volume
422
ISBN print:
9780813724225
Publication date:
January 01, 2007

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