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Earth of fire

Actualité volcanique, Article de fond sur étude de volcan, tectonique, récits et photos de voyage

One of the thirteen natural wonders of Mexico is located near the town of Huasca de Ocampo, located north -east of Mexico City:

the basalt columns of Santa Maria Regla .

                             Mexico - Huasca de Ocampo - Photo Jaschamps

The walls of the Barranca de Alcholoya, a canyon located in the Eastern Mexican Volcanic Belt, are covered with basalt columns , hexagonal or pentagonal , high of 30 to 50 meters. These organs have been uncovered by erosion of the river Tulancingo .

Prismas20Basalticos-20Hasca-20Hidalgo - culturacolectiva
                            Mexico - Huasca de Ocampo - Photo culturacolectiva

These formations currently see circulate water from the dam of San Antonio Regla, in a succession of waterfalls high of thirty meters. The lower waterfall is called Cascada de la Rosa . This portion of the canyon is part of the Hacienda Santa Maria Regla, a residence of Pedro Romero de Terreros , the first Count of Regla, a tycoon and philanthropist of the 18th century. The hacienda has been transformed into a hotel in 1945.
 Huasca - CascadaRosa - Thelmadatter
                   Mexico - Huasca de Ocampo - cascada de la Rosa - Photo Thelmadatter

Hacienda - omar Eduardo Flickr
      Partial view of the Hacienda Santa Maria Regla and its chapel - photo Omar Eduardo / Flickr

This marvel was promoted by the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt during his visit to Mexico from 1803 to 1804 .

It accurately described the geometrical aspect of the columns, and made ​​a drawing, preserved in the British Museum in London. Most of the columns are perpendicular to the ground , some , close to the waterfall, however, are inclined at 45 °, others are horizontal. Each group seems to have followed in the time of its formation a " special attraction " . Bonpland , the companion of von Humboldt, observed in organs nucleus of olivine or peridot, which fascinate geologists.

Basalt prisms at San Miguel Regla, from Humboldt and Bonpla
" Basaltic prisms in San Miguel Regla " by Humboldt and Bonpland / Views of the Cordilleras and Monuments of indigenous peoples of America / British Museum london.

The formation of these organs is related to the Sierra Las Navajas , a volcano located north of the Eastern Mexican Volcanic Belt ( MVB ).

Its volcanic history is divided into four periods , each consisting of one or more lava flows.


View of the Peña del Aire in Huasca de Ocampo, Hidalgo, Me                              Huasca de Ocampo - Peña del Aire - Photo Thelmadatter

The organs are dated from 2.58 +/- 0.15 Ma ( K- Ar / UNAM) : a basalt flow, 30 meters thick, emitted by the volcano Sierra de Las Navajas, met  waters of the Tulancingo river. It is cooled uniformly and consistently , generating a process of volumetric shrinkage and developing prismation .
 Santa Maria Regla mapa1
                                    Simplified map of the region Huasca de Ocampo

Geociencia - Geologia y de los petrogenesis prismas basalticos / Santa Maria regla - by E.Sanchez & M.Osorio Pérez Rojas .

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