Extreme wave deposits on the Pacific Coast of Mexico: tsunamis or storms? - A multi-proxy approach

Historical and instrumental data show that the Pacific coast of Mexico has been exposed to destructive tsunamis over at least the past 500 years. This coast is also affected by hurricanes generated in the eastern Pacific. The great 1985 Mexico earthquake and its aftershock generated tsunamis that affected the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Michoacán coast. The purpose of our study was two-fold, a) to determine whether we could distinguish storm from tsunami deposits, and b) whether tsunami deposits from historical events are preserved in the tropical environments of the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo coast. Two anomalous sand units in the Ixtapa estuary are interpreted as the result of high-energy marine inundation events that occurred in the last century. Several lines of evidence using a multi-proxy approach (historical studies, interviews with local witnesses, geomorphological and geological surveys, coring and trenching, and laboratory analyses including grain size, micropaleontology, geochemistry, magnetic susceptibility and radiometric dating) indicate the occurrence of two tsunamis that we link to local events: the 1985 Mexico and possibly the 1979 Petatlan earthquakes. We thereby provide the first onshore geological evidence of historical tsunamis on the Pacific coast of Mexico. © American Geophysical Union
Seismology, Subduction zones, North America, Mexico, Tsunamis, Shores, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Geologic deposits, Geologic surveys
Ramirez Herrera, M., Lagos, M., Hutchinson, I., Chagué-Goff, C., Kostoglodov, V., Goff, J. R., Ruiz-Fernandez, A., Machain, M., Caballero, M., Goguitchaichrili, A., Aguilar, B., & Urquijo, P. (2011). Extreme wave deposits on the Pacific Coast of Mexico: tsunamis or storms? - A multi-proxy approach. Paper presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2011, 5 December 2011 to 9 December 2011, San Francisco, California.