Late Pleistocene–Holocene Volcanic Stratigraphy and Palaeoenvironments of the Upper Lerma Basin, Mexico

  1. James D. L. White2 and
  2. Nancy R. Riggs3
  1. M. Caballero,
  2. J. L. Macías,
  3. S. Lozano-García,
  4. J. Urrutia-Fucugauchi and
  5. R. Castañeda-Bernal

Published Online: 24 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304251.ch12

Volcaniclastic Sedimentation in Lacustrine Settings

Volcaniclastic Sedimentation in Lacustrine Settings

How to Cite

Caballero, M., Macías, J. L., Lozano-García, S., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J. and Castañeda-Bernal, R. (2001) Late Pleistocene–Holocene Volcanic Stratigraphy and Palaeoenvironments of the Upper Lerma Basin, Mexico, in Volcaniclastic Sedimentation in Lacustrine Settings (eds J. D. L. White and N. R. Riggs), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304251.ch12

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Geology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, 9015, New Zealand

  2. 3

    Geology Department, Northern Arizona University, Box 4099, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA

Author Information

  1. Instituto de Geofísica, UNAM, Coyoacán 04510, México D. F., Mexico

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 18 APR 2001

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632058471

Online ISBN: 9781444304251



  • late Pleistocene-Holocene volcanic stratigraphy and palaeoenvironments of the upper Lerma basin, Mexico;
  • upper Lerma basin - area description;
  • volcanic stratigraphy;
  • magnetic and microfossil analyses - Zacango, Metepec, Lake Chignahuapan;
  • palaeoenvironmental history - largest eruption 37 000 yr ago;
  • upper toluca pumice (UTP) and lower toluca pumice (LTP);
  • loss on ignition (LOI) and ash-flow deposit (AFD);
  • tres cruces tephra (TCT);
  • Zacango and Metepec - poor microfossil preservation;
  • low lake-level conditions during early to middle Holocene times


Detailed analysis of a series of subaerial and lacustrine volcaniclastic sequences in the upper Lerma basin provides evidence of the eruptive history of Nevado de Toluca volcano. These data, together with magnetic susceptibility and microfossil analyses from the studied sequences, are used to document the environmental evolution of this area during the last 40 kyr. The activity of Nevado de Toluca includes three well-documented dome destruction events that occurred at c. 37 000, c. 28 000, and c. 15 000 yr BP, and two Plinian eruptions at c. 24 000 yr BP (Lower Toluca Pumice) and c. 11 600 yr BP (Upper Toluca Pumice), the latest having the most extensive effect in the upper Lerma and neighbouring basins. Monogenetic volcanism at the Tres Cruces volcano by c. 8500 yr BP is also recorded in the upper Lerma basin.

Volcanic activity had a great influence on lacustrine sedimentation, as thick packets of volcanic material were repeatedly deposited in the lake basin. Pollen data from a highland pond indicate extensive grasslands and cold, dry conditions during the last interstadial (> 30 000 yr BP). The diatom record from the lowlands indicates that a shallow, freshwater lake covered the area during the last 15 kyr. An episode of lower lake level followed by a trend towards slightly higher water level is recorded during late Pleistocene time (c. 14 000–11 600 yr BP). Relatively dry early Holocene conditions, followed by a recovery of the lake level after c. 5000 yr BP are recorded in the upper Lerma basin; this lake-level pattern is also recorded in the neigh-bouring Lake Chalco basin. Throughout these periods, emplacement of volcanic material resulted in changes to lake geometry and, in part, to lake levels.