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Abstract

The Sierra Nevada Volcanic Range includes, from south to north, the active Popocatépetl (5452 m), Iztaccíhuatl (5272 m) with several volcanic edifices, Telapón (4000 m), and Tlaloc (4150 m) volcanoes. It has been generally assumed that volcanic activity has migrated from Tlaloc (north) to Popocatépetl (south) over time. New evidence obtained from previous studies, field reconnaissance, and radiometric dating indicate that magmatism at the Sierra Nevada Volcanic Range likely started at 1.8–1.4 Ma with the construction of Paleo-Tlaloc volcano, which is today buried by younger deposits. The activity continued between 1.07 and 0.89 Ma with the emplacement of dacitic domes (Puico, Yahualica, Yeloxochitl, Tearco, and Torrecillas), lavas and associated pyroclastic flows as the San Francisco (1 Ma), and Chicoloapan (0.9 Ma). Afterwards, the main edifice of modern Tlaloc was built up through the emission of dacitic lava flows (0.94–0.84 Ma). Iztaccíhuatl began its activity ca. 1.1 Ma with the formation of several volcanic edifices up to 0.45 Ma, time during which a Mount St. Helens—type event destroyed the southeastern flank of Los Pies Recientes cone, producing a debris avalanche and pyroclastic deposits. Telapón volcano formed approximately between 0.38 Ma and 0.34 Ma ago with the emplacement of lava flows and a dome that become quiescent afterwards. Apparently, ca. 0.32 Ma, Popocatépetl began its eruptive activity that continues today. Strikingly, Tlaloc reawakened with the emission of rhyolitic magma at 0.129 Ma followed by the emplacement of the El Papayo dacite (118 ka) to the south and Téyotl summit lavas (80 ka). Activity continued at Tlaloc with the generation of five explosive eruptions at 44, 38, 33, 31, and 25 ka and the growth of the summit dome. Coevally, Popocatépetl, at the southern end of the range, had collapsed twice to the south and had intense volcanic activity up until today. Holocene activity has taken place at Iztaccíhuatl with the 9 ka Buenavista dacitic lava flow and repetitive Plinian eruptions of Popocaté-petl including some historic events and the 1994—present eruption. Popocatépetl's reawakening reminded authorities, scientists, media, and the public of its potential risk. In fact, on 22 January 2001, the rapid collapse of an eruptive column generated scoria-rich pyroclastic flows that partly melted the glacier producing lahars. From the above considerations it is obvious that magmatism of the Sierra Nevada Volcanic Range did not keep a continuous north to south migrating path, but it rather shifted back and forth chaotically throughout its evolution. It is worth mentioning that major gaps presented in the eruptive sequence are most likely due to poor radiometric coverage of the area that may improve in the future.

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