SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.22 número2Estromatolitos, tufas y travertinos de la sección El Morro: Depósitos relacionados con la primera incursión marina en la Cuenca de Santa Rosalía, Baja California SurGeología del Complejo Volcánico Las Cumbres, estados de Puebla y Veracruz, México índice de autoresíndice de materiabúsqueda de artículos
Home Pagelista alfabética de revistas  

Servicios Personalizados




Links relacionados

  • No hay artículos similaresSimilares en SciELO


Revista mexicana de ciencias geológicas

versión On-line ISSN 2007-2902versión impresa ISSN 1026-8774

Rev. mex. cienc. geol vol.22 no.2 Ciudad de México jul. 2005



Distribution and stratigraphy of deposits produced by diluted pyroclastic density currents of the 1982 eruption of El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, Mexico

Distribución y estratigrafía de depósitos producidos por oleadas piroclásticas durante la erupcion de 1982 del volcán El Chichón, Chiapas, México

Teresa Scolamacchia1 

José Luis Macías1 

1Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónona de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán 04510, México D.F., México.


The March 29 to April 4, 1982 eruption of El Chichón volcano in southeastern Mexico was characterized by a complex interplay between magmatic and phreatomagmatic eruptive events, that were responsible for the generation of plinian columns and concentrated and diluted density currents. Revision of the stratigraphy indicates that the interaction between magma and hydrothermal acid water played an important role during the last phases of the eruption. Diluted density currents were widely dispersed, mainly to the eastern side of the volcano due to the particular topographic conditions in this area. The overall distribution of pyroclastic surge deposits refl ects the dispersal of fallout deposits determined by the direction of tropospheric (ENE) winds at the time of the eruption. This observation suggests that near-ground winds were strong and blowing in the same direction as high altitude (<18 km) winds, thus enhancing the dispersion of the vanishing portions of the pyroclastic density currents.

Key words: pyroclastic density currents; 1982 eruption; El Chichón; Chiapas; Mexico


La erupción del volcán El Chichón en el sureste de México, ocurrida del 29 de Marzo al 4 de Abril de 1982, se caracterizó por una alternancia compleja entre eventos magmáticos y freatomagmáticos que generaron columnas plinianas, flujos y oleadas piroclásticas. La estratigrafía de los depósitos indica que la interacción entre magma y agua hidrotermal jugó un papel importante durante las últimas fases de la erupción. Las oleadas piroclásticas fueron ampliamente distribuidas hacia el oriente del volcán debido a las condiciones topográfi cas presentes en esta dirección. La distribución general de los depósitos de oleada piroclástica refl eja la distribución de los depósitos de caída, la cual fue determinada por la dirección de los vientos troposféricos (ENE) durante la erupción. Esto sugiere que los vientos cercanos al terreno eran fuertes y soplaban en la misma dirección que los vientos superiores (< 18 km), influenciando la distribución de las porciones más diluidas de las oleadas piroclásticas.

Palabras clave: oleada piroclástica; erupción de 1982; El Chichón; Chiapas; México

Texto completo disponible sólo en PDF.


The first author is indebted to Felix Sánchez S. and Edilberto Gómez E. for their invaluable help in the field. Municipal authorities and people of Chapultenango, Chiapas, are thanked for providing a roof and assistance during fieldwork. This manuscript greatly benefited from discussions with S. Hughes, and revisions by C. Siebe and A. Di Muro. This work was supported by CONACYT grants (27993-T and 38586-T to JLM), and a CONACYT-CNR bilateral project to JLM.


Belousov, A., 1996, Deposits of the 30 March 1956 directed blast at Bezymianni volcano, Kamchatka, Russia, 1996: Bulletin of Volcanology, 57, 649-662. [ Links ]

Brayshaw, A.C., 1984, Characteristics and origin of cluster bedforms in coarse-grained alluvial channels, in Koster, E.H., Steel, R.J., (eds.), Sedimentology of Gravels and Conglomerates: Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologist, Memoir, 77-85. [ Links ]

Büttner, R., Dellino, P., Zimanowski, B., 1999, Identifying magma-water interaction from the surface features of ash particles: Nature, 401, 688-690. [ Links ]

Büttner, R. , Dellino, P. , La Volpe, L., Lorenz, V., Zimanowski, B. , 2002, Thermohydraulic explosions as evidenced by the comparison between pyroclasts and products from molten fuel coolant interaction experiments: Journal of Geophysical Research, 107 (B11), 2277 doi:10.1029/2001JB000511. [ Links ]

Canul, R.F., Rocha, V.L., 1981, Informe geológico de la zona geotérmica de “El Chichonal”, Chiapas: Mexico, Comisión Federal de Electricidad, internal report, 38 p. [ Links ]

Capaul, W.A., 1987, Volcanoes of the Chiapas Volcanic Belt, Mexico: Houghton, MI, Michigan Technological University, M. Sc. thesis, 93 p. [ Links ]

Carey, S., Sigurdsson, H., 1986, The 1982 eruptions of El Chichón volcano, Mexico; (2) Observations and numerical modelling of tephra-fall distribution: Bulletin of Volcanology , 48, 127-141. [ Links ]

Cas, R.A., Wright, J.V., 1987, Volcanic successions; Modern and Ancient: London, Allen and Unwin, 528 p. [ Links ]

Casadevall, T.J., de la Cruz-Reyna, S., Rose, W.I., Bagley, S., Finnegan, D.L., Zoller, W.H., 1984, Crater lake and post-eruption hydrothermal activity, El Chichón volcano, Mexico: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 23,169-191. [ Links ]

Cioni, R., Sbrana, A., Vecci, R., 1992, Morphologic features of juvenile pyroclasts from magmatic and phreatomagmatic deposits of Vesuvius: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 51, 61-78. [ Links ]

Cole, P.D., 1991, Migration direction of sandwave structures in pyroclastic surge deposits; implication for depositional processes: Geology, 19, 1108-1111. [ Links ]

Cole, P.D., Scarpati, C., 1993, A facies interpretation of the eruption and emplacement of mechanisms of the upper part of Neapolitan Yellow Tuff, Campi Flegrei, Southern Italy: Bulletin of Volcanology , 55, 311-326. [ Links ]

Cole, P.D. , Guest J.E., Duncan, A.M., Pacheco, J.M., 2001, Capelinhos 1957-1958, Faial, Azores; deposits formed by an emergent surtseyan eruption: Bulletin of Volcanology , 63, 204-220. [ Links ]

Cough, S.K., Sohn, Y.K., 1990, Depositional mechanics and sequences of base surges, Songaksan tuff ring, Cheju Island, Korea: Sedimentology, 37, 1115-1135. [ Links ]

Crowe, B.M., Fisher, R.V., 1973, Sedimentary structures in base surge deposits with special reference to cross bedding; Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley, California: Geological Society of America Bulletin, 84, 663-682. [ Links ]

Dellino, P. , La Volpe, L. , 1995, Fragmentation vs. transportation mechanisms in the pyroclastic sequence of Monte Pilato-Rocche Rosse (Lipari, Italy): Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 64, 211-232. [ Links ]

Dellino, P. , Frazzetta, G., La Volpe, L. , 1990, Wet surge deposits at La Fossa di Vulcano; depositional and eruptive mechanisms: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 43, 215-233. [ Links ]

Dellino, P. , Isaia, R., La Volpe, L. , Orsi, G., 2001, Statistical analysis of textural data from complex pyroclastic sequences; implications for fragmentation processes of the Agnano-Monte Spina Tephra (4.1 ka), Phlegrean Fields, southern Italy: Bulletin of Volcanology , 63, 443-461. [ Links ]

Dellino, P. , Isaia, R. , Veneruso, M., 2004a, Turbulent boundary layer shear flow as an approximation of pyroclastic surge: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 113, 211-228. [ Links ]

Dellino, P. , Isaia, R. , La Volpe, L. , Orsi, G. , 2004b, Interaction between particles transported by fallout and surge in the deposits of Agnano-Monte Spina eruption (Campi Flegrei, Southern Italy): Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 113, 193-210. [ Links ]

Druitt, T.H., 1992, Emplacement of the 18 May 1980 lateral blast deposit east-northeast of Mount St.Helens: Bulletin of Volcanology , 54, 554-572. [ Links ]

Duffield, W., Tilling, R., Canul, R.F. , 1984, Geology of El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, Mexico: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 20, 117-132. [ Links ]

Espíndola, J.M., Macías, J.L., Tilling, R. , Sheridan, M.F., 2000, Volcanic history of El Chichón volcano (Chiapas, Mexico) during the Holocene and its impact on human activity: Bulletin of Volcanology , 62, 90-104. [ Links ]

Fisher, R.V. , 1979, Models for pyroclastic surges and pyroclastic flows: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 6, 305-318. [ Links ]

Fisher, R.V. , 1990, Transport and deposition of pyroclastic surge across an area of high relief; the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, Washington: Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 102, 1038-1054. [ Links ]

Fisher, R.V. , 1995, Decoupling of pyroclastic density currents; hazard assessment: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 66, 257-263. [ Links ]

Fisher, R.V. , Schmincke, H.U., 1984, Pyroclastic Rocks: Heidelberg, Springer Verlag, 472 p. [ Links ]

Fisher, R.V. , Waters, A., 1970, Base surge bed forms in maar volcanoes: American Journal of Science, 268, 157-180. [ Links ]

Fisher, R.V. , Glicken, H.X., Hoblitt, R.P., 1987, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens deposits in South Coldwater Creek, Washinghton: Journal of Geophysical Research , 92(B10), 10267-10283. [ Links ]

García-Palomo A., Macías, J.L. , Espíndola J.M., 2004, Strike-slip faults and K-alkaline volcanism at El Chichón volcano, southeastern Mexico: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 136, 247-268. [ Links ]

Heiken, G.H., 1971, Tuff rings; examples from the Fort Rock Christmas Valley basin, South Central Oregon: Journal of Geophysical Research , 76, 5615-5626. [ Links ]

Heiken, G.H., Wohletz, K., 1985. Volcanic Ash: Berkeley, University of California Press, 1-246. [ Links ]

Hughes, S.R., 1995, Transport and deposition of pyroclastic surges: Wales, University of Wales, College of Cardiff, PhD Thesis, 500 p. [ Links ]

Krueger, A.J., Walter, L.S., Bhartia, P.K., Schnetzler, C.C., Kroktov, N.A., Sprod, I., Bluth, G.J.S., 1995, Volcanic sulfur dioxide measurements from the total ozone mapping spectrometer instruments: Journal of Geophysical Research , 100, 14,057-14,076. [ Links ]

Ingram, R.L., 1954, Terminology for the thickness of stratification and parting units in sedimentary rocks: Geological Society of America Bulletin , 65, 937-938. [ Links ]

Inman, D.L., 1952, Measures for describing the size distribution of sediments: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 22, 125-145. [ Links ]

Lajoye, J., Boudon, G., Bourdier, J.L., 1989, Depositional mechanics of the 1902 pyroclastic nuée ardente deposits of Mt. Pelée, Martinique: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 38, 131-142. [ Links ]

Laronne, J.B., Carson, M.A., 1976, Interrelationships between bed morphology and bed material transport for a small gravel channel: Sedimentology , 23, 67-85. [ Links ]

Lipmann P.W., Mullineaux, D. (eds.), 1981, The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens: U.S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper 1250, 844 p. [ Links ]

Lorenz, V. , 1974, Vesiculated tuffs and associated features: Sedimentology , 21, 273-291. [ Links ]

Lowe, D.R., 1988, Suspended-load fallout rate as an independent variable in the analysis of current structures: Sedimentology , 35, p. 765-776. [ Links ]

Luhr, J.F., Logan, M.A.V., 2002, Sulfur isotope systematics of the 1982 El Chichón trachyandesite; An ion microprobe study: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 66(18), 3303-3316. [ Links ]

Macías, J.L. , 1994, Violent short lived eruptions from small sized volcanoes; El Chichón, Mexico (1982) and Styubel, Russia (1907): Buffalo, NY, State University of New York, University at Buffalo, PhD Thesis, 196 p. [ Links ]

Macías, J.L. , Sheridan, M.F. , Espindola, J.M., 1997a, Reappraisal of the 1982 eruption of El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, Mexico; new data from proximal deposits: Bulletin of Volcanology , 58, 459-471. [ Links ]

Macías, J.L. , Espíndola, J.M. , Taran, Y., Sheridan, M.F. , García, A., 1997b, Explosive volcanic activity during the last 3,500 years at El Chichón volcano, Mexico, in IAVCEI General Assembly, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Field Trip Guide, 53 p. [ Links ]

Middleton, G.V., 1967, Experiments on density and turbidity currents; Deposition of sediment: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 4, 475-505. [ Links ]

Moore, J.G., Nakamura, K., Alcaraz, A., 1966, The 1965 eruption of Taal volcano: Science, 151, 955-960. [ Links ]

Ritchie, L.J., Cole, P.D. , Sparks, R.S.J., 2002, Sedimentology of deposits from the pyroclastic density current of the 26 of December 1997 at Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat, in Druitt, T.H., Kokelaar, B.P. (eds.), The eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat, from 1995 to 1999: Geological Society of London, Memoirs, 21, 435-456. [ Links ]

Rye, R.O., Luhr, J.F. , Wasserman, M.D., 1984, Sulfur and oxygen isotopes systematics of the 1982 eruption of El Chichón volcano, Chiapas, México: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 24, 109-123. [ Links ]

Schmincke, H.U. , Fisher, R.V. , Waters, A. , 1973, Antidune and chute and pool structures in the base surge deposits of Laacher See area, Germany: Sedimentology , 20, 553-574. [ Links ]

Scolamacchia T., Macías J.L., Sheridan, M.F. , and Hughes, S.R., in press, Morphology of ash aggregates in wet pyroclastic surges of the 1982 eruption of El Chichón volcano, Mexico: Bulletin of Volcanology . [ Links ]

Scientific Event Alarm Network (SEAN), 1982, Volcanic events; El Chichón volcano: Smithsonian Institution, Global Volcanism Program, Scientific Event Alarm Network, Bulletin, 7, 2-6. [ Links ]

Sheridan, M.F. , Wohletz, K. H., 1983, Hydrovolcanism; basic considerations and reviews: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 17(1-4), 1-29. [ Links ]

Sigurdsson, H. , Carey, S. , Espíndola, J.M. , 1984, The 1982 eruption of El Chichón volcano, Mexico; stratigraphy of pyroclastic deposits: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 23, 11-37. [ Links ]

Sigurdsson, H. , Carey, S. , Fisher, R.V. , 1987, The 1982 eruptions of El Chichón volcano; (3) Physical properties of pyroclastic surges: Bulletin of Volcanology , 49, 467-488. [ Links ]

Sohn, Y.K. , 1996, Hydrovolcanic processes forming basaltic tuff rings and cones on Cheju Island, Korea: Geological Society of America Bulletin , 108, 1199-1211. [ Links ]

Sohn, Y.K. , 1997, On traction-carpet sedimentation: Journal of Sedimentary Research, 67(3), 502-509. [ Links ]

Sohn, Y.K. , Cough, S.K. , 1989, Depositional processes of the Suwolbong tuff ring, Cheju Island (Korea): Sedimentology , 36, 837-855. [ Links ]

Sohn, Y.K. , Cough, S.K. , 1992, The Ilchulbong tuff cone, Cheju Island, South Korea; depositional processes and evolution of an emergent, Surtseyan-type tuff cone: Sedimentology , 39, 523-544. [ Links ]

Sohn, Y.K. , Cough, S.K. , 1993, The Udo tuff cone, Cheju Island, South Korea; transformation of pyroclastic fall into debris flow and grain flow on a steep volcanic cone slope: Sedimentology , 40, 769-786. [ Links ]

Sparks, R.S.J. , Walker, G.P.L., 1973, The ground surge deposit; a third type of pyroclastic rock: Nature , 241, 62-64. [ Links ]

Taddeucci, J., Palladino, D.M., 2002, Particle size-density relationships in pyroclastic deposits; inferences for emplacement processes: Bulletin of Volcanology , 64, 273-284. [ Links ]

Tilling, R. , 1989, Volcanic hazards and their mitigation; progress and problems: Review of Geophysics, 27, 237-269. [ Links ]

Toon, O.B., 1982, An overview of the effects of volcanic eruptions on climate: EOS, 63, 901. [ Links ]

Valentine, G.A., 1987, Stratified flow in pyroclastic surges: Bulletin of Volcanology , 49, 616-630. [ Links ]

Valentine, G.A., 1998, Damage to structures by pyroclastic flows and surges, inferred from nuclear weapons effects: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 87, 117-140. [ Links ]

Valentine, G.A., Fisher, R.V. , 2000, Pyroclastic surges and blasts, in Sigurdsson, H. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Volcanoes: Academic Press, 571-580. [ Links ]

Walker, G.P.L. , 1971, Grain size distribution of pyroclastic deposits: Journal of Geology , 79, 696-714. [ Links ]

Walker, G.P.L. , 1984, Characteristics of dune-bedded pyroclastic surge bedset: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 20, 281-296. [ Links ]

White, J.D.L., 1991, Maar-diatreme phreatomagmatism at Hopi Buttes, Navajo Nation (Arizona), USA: Bulletin of Volcanology , 53, 239-258. [ Links ]

Wilson, C.J.N., Houghton, B.F., 2000, Pyroclastic transport and deposition: in Sigdursson, H. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Volcanoes: Academic Press, 545-554. [ Links ]

Wohletz, K. H., 1983, Mechanism of hydrovolcanic pyroclastic formation; grain size, scanning electron microscopy and experimental studies: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 17, 31-63. [ Links ]

Wohletz, K. H. , Sheridan, M.F. , 1983, Hydrovolcanic explosions; II. Evolution of basaltic tuff rings and tuff cones: American Journal of Science , 283, 385-413. [ Links ]

Zimanowski, B. , Frohlich, G., Lorenz, V. , 1991, Quantitative experiments on phreatomagmatic explosions: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research , 48, 341-358. [ Links ]

Zimanowski, B. , Büttner R., Lorenz V., 1997, Premixing of magma and water in MFCI experiments: Bulletin of Volcanology , 58, 491-495. [ Links ]

Received: June 15, 2004; Revised: January 17, 2005; Accepted: March 20, 2005

Creative Commons License This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License