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Geomorphology, internal structure and evolution of alluvial fans at Motozintla, Chiapas, Mexico
- Sánchez-Núñez, J.M., Macías, J.L., Saucedo, Ricardo, Zamorano, J.J., Novelo, David, Mendoza, M.E., Torres-Hernández, J.R.
- Geomorphology 2015 v.230 pp. 1-12
- alluvial plains, anthropogenic activities, basins, climatic factors, earthquakes, floods, hydrometeorology, mass movement, paleosolic soil types, stratigraphy, tectonics, terraces, villages, Mexico
- Alluvial fans and terraces develop in diverse regions responding to different tectonic and climatic conditions. The Motozintla basin is located in the State of Chiapas, southern Mexico and has an E–W orientation following the trace of the left-lateral Polochic Fault. The evolution of the Motozintla basin and the alluvial plain is related to several factors, such as fault movement, intense erosion by hydrometeorological events, and anthropogenic activity. This study presents the geomorphology of the alluvial plain that between the villages of Motozintla and Mazapa de Juárez exposes 31 alluvial fans, 5 hanging terraces and 13 ramps. Fourteen of these alluvial fans have been truncated by the Polochic fault, exposing maximum uplifts of ~12m. The internal structure of truncated fans consists of single massive beds (monolithologic fans) or stacked beds (polygenetic fans). The fans' stratigraphy is made of debris flow deposits separated by paleosols and minor hyperconcentrated flows, fluviatile beds, and pyroclastic fall deposits. The reconstruction of the stratigraphy assisted by radiocarbon geochronology suggests that these fans have been active since late Pleistocene (25ka) to the present. This record suggests that at least 10 events have been recorded at the fan interior during the past ~1840years. One of these events at 355±65¹⁴Cyrs.BP (calyrs. AD 1438 to 1652) can be correlated across the fans and is likely associated with an extreme hydrometeorologic event. The presence of a 165±60¹⁴Cyrs.BP (calyrs. AD 1652–1949) debris flow deposit within the fans suggests that movement along the Polochic fault formed the fans' scarp afterwards. In fact, a historic earthquake along the fault occurred east of Motozintla on July 22, 1816 with a Mw of 7.5–7.75. Recent catastrophic floods have affected Motozintla in 1998 and 2005 induced by extreme hydrometeorological events and anthropogenic factors. Therefore, scenarios for Motozintla involved several types of mass movement processes that pose a serious hazard and threat to the inhabitants of the region.