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The volcanic hazards of Los Tuxtlas, Mexico 15 July 2009

Posted by admin in Mexico, natural hazards, San Martín, volcanology.
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The Los Tuxtlas region consists of an isolated range of volcanic mountains in southern Mexico, in the central southern area of the coastal state of Veracruz. The isolation of this elevated region has given it a virtual island ecosystem, enabling flora and fauna to flourish there in the most northerly tropical rainforest environment on the American mainland. In 1998 a nature reserve was established there by the Mexican Government, the Reserva de la Biósfera Los Tuxtlas.

So, it’s a very interesting part of the world. Yet while the flora and fauna of Los Tuxtlas have been extensively studied, the geology of the region has been somewhat neglected: which is unfortunate, not only because of the intrinsic geological interest of this anomalous volcanic belt, but because it is region of active volcanism. Volcán de San Martín, the dominant volcanic edifice of the Tuxtla volcanic field, last erupted in 1793 (VEI=4) and 1794 (VEI=2), if more recent uncertain reports of activity are disregarded.

However, a detailed study of volcanic activity and potential hazards in Los Tuxtlas is now under way, reports the Veracruz newspaper El Golfo (drawing upon a report in the Mexican university periodical UniVerso). A team of experts from the Universidad Veracruzana are working to compile a detailed hazard map of Los Tuxtlas which will help local authorities plan for better civil protection:

In addition to studying past eruptions and estimating future ones … [the team] will assess the hazards faced by local communities through mud and debris flows generated by the rains and storms that constantly sweep the region with its abundant vegetation and proximity to the sea.

In communities of Pajapan municipality important effects have already occurred, including the loss of human life because of debris flows caused by the heavy rains, comments Sergio Rodriguez Elizarrarás, an expert in geology and volcanology from the Centro de Ciencias de la Tierra (CCT). ‘What we want is that these tragedies are not repeated’.

The project involves mineralogical and soil studies throughout the Tuxtla volcanic complex, and detailed study of the little-known eruptive history of San Martín volcano. Funding for the project, to the tune of more than 4 million pesos (around $300,000 or €200,000), is being provided by the Mexican Government’s Fondo Nacional de Prevención de Desastres Naturales (Fopreden).

Global Volcanism Program: San Martín – summary information on San Martín (1401-11=)

Realizarán mapa de peligros volcánicos en Los TuxtlasUniVerso, 13 July 2009
Especialistas mantendrán vigilancia en volcanesEl Golfo, 14 July 2009

The Volcanism Blog


1. Bob - 15 July 2009

I believe the Tongass in Alaska is the northern most rainforest in the Americas. This is of course not a tropical rainforest, for that we might take the view that the caribean islands (Cuba, Hispaniola, or Peurto Rico) host the most northern tropical rainforests on the continent since they are part of the north american plate. Either way it is nice to see geologic study of this unique area.

2. volcanism - 15 July 2009

You’re right – I’ve changed it to ‘tropical rainforest’, and to be on the safe side have replaced ‘continent’ with ‘mainland’. That should cover it!

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