CUEXCOMATE BERALDI .pdf

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CUEXCOMATE: FROM THE SMALLEST VOLCANO TO THE BIGGEST GEYSER ON EARTH
hberaldi@unam.mx

Hugo Beraldi-Campesi

Institute of Geology, UNAM. Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 Mexico DF
SUMMARY

Weathered texture

6m

Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

Fly Ranch Geyser, Nevada, US

6m

Completely surrounded by urban development in the city of Puebla, Mexico, the Cuexcomate (from the Náhuatl ‘cuexcomatl’, meaning
‘bucket’ or ‘pot’) geyser cone deposit has been mistakenly believed to be a ‘small volcano’ by the local population for centuries. The
concept of ‘volcano’ was coined because of its dome-shaped exterior and its central crater, similar to a volcano.
The Cuexcomate is a chemical (calcitic) hydrothermal deposit (geyserite) of considerable size: ~28.5 x 24.3 m in diameter, stands ~8.4 m
above the ground, and its ~10 x 5 m-diameter internal crater goes down ~4 m below ground (total depth ~12 m). The roomy interior
serves as cultural/touristic attraction. Ambient-temperature water still flows in the bottom interior, connecting with a natural underground
discharge of unknown path.
Although no absolute ages are known for the Cuexcomate, Puebla’s municipal government sustains that the Cuexcomate was originated
~948 years ago, in 1064, and was reactivated ~349 years ago, in 1664. Important peaks of activity of the Popocatépetl volcano (~40 km
to the West of Cuexcomate) before the year 1900, occur approximately 349, 493, and 5712 years ago. It is unclear whether the
Cuexcomate was formed during Popocatépetl’s mild activity or not. Radiometric dating is needed.

Punch Bowl Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

The Cuexcomate clearly had a hydrothermal origin. It can be compared in shape, texture, and composition to analog, currently-active
geysers around the world. Yet none compares in size with the Cuexcomate; the largest being ~5 m tall. The non-reported-yet Apaseo
sinters (North of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt) are used here to compare different mineralogical compositions (Cuexcomate = 90 %
calcite, Apaseo sinters = 90% amorphous silica) with similar shapes and origins, typical of hydrothermal deposits in which the
underground basement defines the composition of the precipitates. Data on Cuexcomate’s chemical composition are presented here for
the first time.

3m

La Malinche
4461 masl
Last active: 3182 yr BP

Puebla

1m

r
Crate
Viajeros.com

Iztaccíhuatl
5230 masl
Last active: >80,000 yr BP?

Taupo, New Zeland

05

2m

Pool geyser

~12 m

04

Ground level

Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

03
02
01

w
flo
0.8

0.5
1445

1937

Cuexcomate seen from above.
Courtesy of Google Earth.
Wikipedia.com

Taupo, New Zeland

Cuexcomate

2354

Apaseo

01. Base
02. 5 m
03. 1.3 m

0.4

04. 1 m
05. Exterior
06. 300 m apart

0.2

Popocatépetl
5426 masl
Last active: 2012

0.4
Abs orbanc e %

A bs orbanc e %

0.6

0
350

850

1350

1850

0.3

0.2

0.1
350

2350

850

1350

Wavelength nm

1850

2350

Wavelength

Apaseo geyserite sinters
2500

2500
Cuexcomate, exterior upper surface

Calcite

2000

Calcite

2000

1500

1500

Sinter A072

Amorphous
silica

1000

Inactive geysers

Tridimite

C o u n ts

Calcite

Calcite

500

Calcite

Calcite

1000

Calcite

Active geysers

Calcite

C o u n ts

Cuexcomate XRD

500
0

0

4

4

9

14

19

24

29

34

39

2 degrees

44

49

54

59

64

69

9

14

19

24

29

34

39

-500
2 Theta degrees

44

49

54

59

64

69

0
km

Sinter deposits

Hot pools and
terraces

200° C

Ascending
Hot water

300° C

1

400° C

500° C

2
1100° C

Eruptive history of the Popocatépetl volcano
10

6

1996

Eruptive Characteristics:
1.
Central vent eruption
2.
Explosive eruption
3.
Pyroclastic flow(s)
4.
Lava flow(s)
5.
Lava dome extrusion
6.
Fatalities
7.
Damage (land, property, etc.)
8.
Mudflow(s) (lahars)
9.
Evacuation

Birth of Cuexcomate?
1064

CONCLUSIONS
-The Cuexcomate represents the oldest evidence of hydrothermal activity
reported for the Popocatepetl volcano.
-Because the Cuexcomate had a hydrothermal origin, it denies the historical
idea that cuexcomate is a volcano.
-The Cuexcomate is established here as a geyserite deposit of 90 % calcitic
composition.

1996

9
5
Relative Explosivity Index

Eruptive Characteristics

8

Eruptive characteristics vs. Volcanic Explosivity Index

4

2

ReactivationBirth
of Cuexcomate?
of Cuexcomate?
1663

1919

4

1519
3

VEI
2

EC
-7500

-6000

-4500

-3000
Time (years)

-1500

Data from the Global Volcanism Program (GVP). http://www.volcano.si.edu/info/

0

1500

1
1300

1400

1500

Data from http://www.volcano.si.edu/info/

1600

1700

Time (years)

1800

1900

2000

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This study was possible thanks to Puebla’s City Council, Carnes Canet Miquel, Institute of
Geophysics, UNAM, and Teresa Pi Puig, Institute of Geology, UNAM.


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