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Trenchward Plio-Quaternary volcanism migration in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt: the case of the Sierra Nevada range

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2011

Laboratorio Universitario de Geoquímica Isotópica, Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Institutos s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 México D.F., México Clermont Université, Université Blaise Pascal, Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, BP 10448, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France CNRS, UMR 6524, LMV, F-63038 Clermont-Ferrand, France IRD, R 163, LMV, F-63038 Clermont-Ferrand, France
UMR 8148 IDES, Université Paris Sud-11, Bât. 504, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
Laboratorio Universitario de Geoquímica Isotópica, Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Circuito Institutos s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 México D.F., México
Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE), Unité mixte de recherche CEA-CNRS-UVSQ (UMR 1572), Bât.701, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Author for correspondence:


The Miocene–Quaternary Trans-Mexican Volcanic arc is thought to have grown southwards (i.e. trenchward) since the Pliocene. This theory is mainly supported by roughly N–S-directed polygenetic volcanic ranges along which volcanic activity migrates southwards with time. We investigated the eruptive history of one of these ranges, the Sierra Nevada (east boundary of Mexico City basin), by compiling literature ages and providing new K–Ar dates. Our K–Ar ages are the first ones for the northernmost Tláloc and Telapón volcanoes and for the ancestral Popocatépetl (Nexpayantla). The obtained ages reveal that the four stratovolcanoes forming the range worked contemporaneously during most of the Middle to Late Pleistocene. However, taking into account the onset of the volcanic activity, a southward migration is evidenced along the Sierra Nevada: volcanism initiated at its northern tip at least 1.8 Ma ago at Tláloc volcano, extended southwards 1 Ma ago with Iztaccíhuatl and appeared at its southern end 329 ka ago with the Nexpayantla cone. Such a migration would be most probably primarily driven by Cocos slab roll-back and steepening rather than by regional crustal tectonics, which played a secondary role by controlling the apparent alignment of the volcanoes.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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