Natural Hazards

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 103–126 | Cite as

The September 8–9, 1998 Rain-Triggered Flood Events at Motozintla, Chiapas, Mexico

  • L. Caballero
  • J. L. Macías
  • A. García-Palomo
  • G. R. Saucedo
  • L. Borselli
  • D. Sarocchi
  • J. M. Sánchez
Article

Abstract

In September 1998 tropical storm “Earl” swept southern Mexico, producing intense rainfall in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. Among the most devastated cities was Motozintla, located in the drainage basin of the Allende, La Mina and Xelajú Grande Rivers. The rainfall from the tropical storm totaled 175 mm on September 8 and 130 mm on September 9, duplicating in two days the average monthly precipitation in the region. Numerous landslides occurred in the vicinity of Motozintla, depositing large volumes of material into the Xelajú Grande stream. Much of this sediment was subsequently remobilized, yielding debris flows, hyperconcentrated flows, and sediment-laden flows that inundated most sections of Motozintla city. The flows covered an approximate area of 3.15 km2 with a minimum volume of 4.4 × 106 m3 of sediment. Communication of Motozintla with the rest of the Chiapas State was interrupted for about a month, as was the supply of potable water, food, electricity, and fuel. The geologic record around Motozintla indicates that the Xelajú Grande River has been a pathway for similar large floods during the last 6000 years. The oldest deposit yielded a radiocarbon age of 5320 ± 100 14C years. B.P. At least two historic floods have occurred during the last 100 years, a time period defined by a stratigraphically distinct tephra of 1902. Frequency analysis of the historical record of daily rainfall in the Motozintla area suggests that events like that of September, 1998, have a recurrence interval of about 25 years. After the catastrophic flows of 1998, the mitigation measures by Municipal Authorities were made without regard to geological and environmental factors, or to taking into consideration the flow magnitude and appropriate hazard-mitigation techniques, with the result that Motozintla remains at serious risk for future floods. Unfortunately, prior to the publication of this study, in early October 2005, Motozintla was seriously damaged again by intense rain provoked by Hurricane Stan.

Keywords

Chiapas deforestation floods landslides Mexico rain-triggered flows tropical storm 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Caballero
    • 1
  • J. L. Macías
    • 1
  • A. García-Palomo
    • 2
  • G. R. Saucedo
    • 3
  • L. Borselli
    • 4
  • D. Sarocchi
    • 1
  • J. M. Sánchez
    • 5
  1. 1.Instituto de GeofísicaUNAM CoyoacánMéxicoMéxico
  2. 2.Departamento de Geología RegionalInstituto de Geologia, UNAM CoyoacánMéxicoMéxico
  3. 3.Instituto de GeologíaUniversidad Autónoma de San Luis PotosíSan Luis PotosíMéxico
  4. 4.Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Istituto di Ricerca per la Protezione Idrogeologica (CNR-IRPI) Unità staccata di FirenzeFirenzeItaly
  5. 5.CIIEMADIPNMéxico, D.F.

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