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An outline of the geology of Mexico

Zoltan de Cserna
Zoltan de Cserna
Institute de Geologia, UniversidadNacional Autònoma de Mexico, Cuidad Universitaria, Coyoacàn, 04510 Mexico, D.F., Mexico
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January 01, 1989


This chapter provides a brief introduction to the geology of Mexico for members of the international geological community unfamiliar with the geology of the southern border region of the North American continent and adjacent parts of northern Central America. The main geologic features are presented by morphotectonic provinces, including the adjacent sea floor, accompanied by relevant references, primarily in English. Since most of the geological information is of reconnaissance nature, regional interpretations necessarily involve speculations and resulting controversial issues. These have been avoided, for their objective presentation would have exceeded the predetermined number of pages for this chapter.

The first geological map of Mexico was prepared by the staff of Comisión Geológica Nacional, the starting organization of the Mexican Geological Survey, under the direction of Antonio del Castillo (1889a); the explanatory text constitutes the first geological synthesis of the country, the Bosquejo geológico de México, and was published with the participation and coordinating efforts of Aguilera (1896). The pioneer descriptions of the geology of the Yucatán Peninsula (Heilprin, 1891; Sapper, 1896), Chiapas and Tabasco (Böse, 1905) and northern Central America (Sapper, 1899) allowed the presentation of a regional tectonic synthesis during the 8th International Geographical Congress in Washington, D.C. (Sapper, 1905). On the occasion of the 10th session of the IGC, held in Mexico in 1906, a set of 31 field trip guidebooks was edited, presenting the country’s geology in a very objective way. The so-called Bailey Willis geological map of North America was distributed to the participants, although it was published formally by the U.S. Geological Survey (Willis, 1912), while Aguilera (1906) presented an overview on the tectonics and volcanism in Mexico. The first description of the physiography of Mexico according to physiographic provinces is credited to Thayer (1916); the first book on the geology of Mexico, which was published in Berlin, is credited to Freudenberg (1921).

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Figures & Tables


DNAG, Geology of North America

The Geology of North America—An Overview

Albert W. Bally
Albert W. Bally
Department of GeologyP.O. Box 1892Houston, Texas 77251
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Allison R. Palmer
Allison R. Palmer
Geological Society of America3300 Penrose Place, P.O. Box 9140Boulder, Colorado 80301
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Geological Society of America
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 1989




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