Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 203–215 | Cite as

Diatom-inferred palaeoenvironmental changes of a Pliocene lake disturbed by volcanic activity

  • G. VilaclaraEmail author
  • G. Martinez-Mekler
  • E. Cuna
  • E. Ugalde
Original paper


Lake development in geologically active basins is a complex phenomenon as shown by the bed of the Pliocene Tlaxcala paleolake disturbed by volcanic eruptions in central Mexico. A 5-m layered freshwater diatomite outcrop section shows volcanic ashes throughout a bottom Stephanodiscus zone up to a more recent Aulacoseira zone. A 0.5-m transition region begins with an abrupt decrease in volcanic inputs and ends with a shift to Aulacoseira solida (Eulenstein) Krammer. Sediment analysis points to a shallow eutrophic lake in the bottom zone undergoing a transition to higher water volume leading to a threshold depth for the species shift. The lake was apparently deeper and mesotrophic thereafter. A common interpretation is to attribute such a volume change to a moisture increase. However, evidence of geological activity, mainly volcanism and faulting, suggests that it could have also been rooted in geomorphological changes of the lake basin.


Limnogeology Pliocene paleolake Geologic activity Volcanism Layered diatomite Diatoms Computed tomography Lake development 



We thank CONACyT-34512E, ECOS-ANUIES-M04-M01, and DGAPA-UNAM-IN116198 grants. E.U. and G. M.-M. thank the CPT-CNRS Luminy hospitality. Field work and some attempts for dating measurements were done with the aid of Jesús Solé-Viñas Peter Schaaf, Ángel Pérez and Teodoro Hernández. Martha Gaytan assisted with laboratory analyses. Gilberto Silva and Claudia Mendoza contributed with map figures. SEM facilities were given by Serveis Cientifico-Tecnics, Universitat de Barcelona. CT scanner was provided by Instituto Nacional de Neurología y Neurocirugía, Mexico City. Tom Whitmore and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful corrections to the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Vilaclara
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. Martinez-Mekler
    • 2
    • 3
  • E. Cuna
    • 1
    • 4
  • E. Ugalde
    • 5
  1. 1.Limnología Tropical, UIICSE, División de Investigación y Posgrado, FES-IztacalaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoTlalnepantlaMéxico
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciencias FísicasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCuernavacaMéxico
  3. 3.Centro de Ciencias de la ComplejidadUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCoyoacán, México CityMéxico
  4. 4.Posgrado de Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCoyoacán, México CityMéxico
  5. 5.Instituto de FísicaUniversidad Autónoma de San Luis PotosíSan Luis PotosíMéxico

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