The geology and hydrogeology of the Sistema Purificación area, Villa Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Mexico

The geology and hydrogeology of the Sistema Purificación area, Villa Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Mexico

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The geology and hydrogeology of the Sistema Purificación area, Villa Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Mexico
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Karst theses & dissertations
Hose, Louise D
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1 online resource (xii, 148 p.) : ill., maps. ;


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Caves -- Mexico -- Tamaulipas (State) ( lcsh )
Geology -- Mexico -- Tamaulipas (State) ( lcsh )
Hydrogeology -- Mexico -- Tamaulipas (State) ( lcsh )
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non-fiction ( marcgt )


Thesis (M.S.)--California State University, Los Angeles, 1981.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 141-148).
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Title from PDF of title page.
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Digitized by University of South Florida Libraries for the digital collection Karst theses & Dissertations.
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by Louise Dorothy Hose.

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The geology and hydrogeology of the Sistema Purificacin area, Villa Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Mexico
h [electronic resource] /
by Louise Dorothy Hose.
[S.l. :
b s.n.],
1 online resource (xii, 148 p.) :
ill., maps.
Title from PDF of title page.
Digitized by University of South Florida Libraries for the digital collection Karst theses & Dissertations.
Thesis (M.S.)--California State University, Los Angeles, 1981.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 141-148).
0 650
z Mexico
Tamaulipas (State)
Tamaulipas (State)
Tamaulipas (State)
Karst theses & dissertations.
t Karst Theses and Dissertations
GB608.16 (ONLINE)


THE GEOLOGY AND HYDROGEOLOGY 0F THE SISTEMA PURIFICACION AREA, VILLA HIDALGO, TAMAULIPAS, MEXICO A Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the Department of Geology California State University, Los Angeles In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree Master of Science by Louise Dorothy Hose March 1981


TITLE-APPROVAL PAGE FOR GRADUATE THESIS OR PROJECT SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF REQUIREMENTS FOR DEGREE OF MASTER OF Science t AT CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, LOS ANGELES BY Louise D Hose Candidate Geology Field of Concentration The Geology and Hydrogeology of the Sistema Purification Area, TITLE : Villa Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Mexico APPROVED Faculty Member Faculty Member t Department Chairperson DATE June 30, 1981 (revised Summer 78)


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This project would not have been possible without the support and assistance of many people I wish to thank Dr Perry L < Ehlig for his many suggestions and his help in the field while acting as my advisor I also appreciate the help received from Mr Robert T Bean and Dr Richard Hurst, who were on my committee My laboratory work was assisted by Dr Robert Stull and Eric Hovanitz My thanks to Scott Thompson, who prepared the thin sections, and Dr Robert M, Hutchinson of the Colorado School of Mines, who provided a petrographic microscope for my use, I am greatly indebted to the members of the Association for Mexican Cave Studies (AMCS) and Proyecto Espeleologico Purificacion (PEP) for use of their fieldhouse, assistance in the field, and information on the Sistema Purificacion Peter Sprouse, coordinator of the PEP, provided valuable assistance in many ways I also wish to express special thanks to Terri Treacy, Joseph Lieberz, David MacKenzie, Shiela Balsdon, and William Russell My deep gratitude is owed to Gerald L Atkinson of the University of Texas-Austin and of the AMCS for his many suggestions and criticisms His willingness to share his knowledge of the area and assist in the field has greatly enhanced this report I also wish to thank Dr John W Hess of the National Speleological Society and the Desert Research Institute (DRI), Dr Roger L Jacobson, also of DRI and Mr Thomas Farley for their many suggestions while visiting the area Dr Hess


also provided valuable comments on the Hydrology chapter My thanks are also due to Thomas R Strong, who provided valuable comments, discussions and support throughout this project, Dr John E Mylroie, who reviewed an earlier draft of the thesis, and James Pisarowicz, who helped with the drafting and typing I am indebted to Dr Diego A Cordoba and Dr Zoltan de Cserna of the Instituto de Geologia for arranging to provide an official letter ratifying this project and aerial photographs and geologic maps from Detenal The office of the Secretario de Agricultura y Recursos Hidrologicos in Ciudad Victoria kindly provided the rainfall records used in this report Grants supporting my field work were provided by the National Speleological Society Research Grant Committee and the Graduate Research Grants Committee of the Associated Students of California State University, Los Angeles The successful completion of this project was possible because of support received from the people of the Ejidos Conrado Castillo and Puerto Purificacion I am deeply grateful to them for their friendliness, patience, and helpfulness while I was a part of their mountain community iv


LIST OF FIGURES t vii LIST OF PLATES t x ABSTRACT t xi CHAPTER I II TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION t Objectives t General Procedure t Geographic Setting t : t Location t Topography and Drainage t Vegetation, Climate, and Land Use t Accessibility t : : . Previous Work t REGIONAL GEOLOGIC SETTING t Stratigraphy t Precambrian t € € t t Paleozoic t Mesozoic t Triassic t Jurassic t La Joya Formation t Zuloaga Formation t Olvido Formation t La Casita/La Caja Formation t Cretaceous t Taraises Formation t Tamaulipas Formation t Otates Formation t Tamaulipas Inferior Formation t El Abra Formation t Tamabra Formation t Agua Nueva Formation t San Felipe Formation t Mendez Formation t Structure t Mineralization t Geologic History t Precambrian t Paleozoic t Mesozoic t V Page


Page III STRATIGRAPHY AND LITHOLOGY OF THE AREA t 40 Introduction t 40 La Joya Formation t 40 La Caja Formation t : t 42 Taraises and Tamaulipas Formations t 44 Tamabra Formation t : t 48 Landslide Deposits t 56 IV STRUCTURE OF THE AREA . : t 59 Introduction t 59 F olds t 59 Introduction t 59 Si nclinal de Infiernillo t ; : t 60 Other Large Folds t 61 Geologic Factors Controlling Folding t 67 Faults and Joints t ; t 74 V GEOMORPHOLOGY t 82 HYDROLOGY OF THE AREA t 94 Introduction t 94 Sinks (Input Areas) . .95 Springs (Discharge Areas) t 96 Hydrology of the Sistema Purificacion t 110 Flooding Events t 112 Hydrochemistry t 118 Conclusions t 120 VI VII GEOLOGIC FACTORS CONTROLLING THE SPELEOGENESIS OF THE SISTEMA PURIFICACION t 124 Introduction t 124 The Upper Cave t 125 The Middle Cave t 128 The Netherhall t 131 The Lower Cave t 135 GLOSSARY t 139 REFERENCES t 141 vi


LIST OF FIGURES V14 Figure Page 1 Location Map t 4L ; 2 Geographic Features t 6 3 Total Annual Rainfall at El Barretal t 7 4 Average Monthly Rainfall at El Barretal t .7 5 Stratigraphy of the Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina from Previous Work t 15 6 Generalized Stratigraphic Column of the Early and Middle Cretaceous Known From Previous Work in the Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina t 23' 7 Northern Limits of the Plataforma San Luis Potosi t 26 8 Lithofacies of the Formacion El Abra t 26 9 Mesozoic Horst Block t 32 10 Generalized Lithologic Section and Age Boundaries near Conrado Castillo, Tamaulipas, Mexico t 41 11 Chemical Analysis of Rock Samples t 43 12 Graded Bedding in the Tamabra Formation t 50 .,13 Channel Structure in the Tamabra Formation t 50X14 Breccia Unit in the Tamabra Formation t 51' 15 Cemented Landslide Deposit near La Curva t 58 16 Major Third-order Syncline-Anticline Pair Above Sistema Purificacio'n t 63 ,,17 Syncline at Paso de la Muerte t 6318 Looking North Into Canon El Infiernillo t 65 19 Looking Northeast Into Canon Los Hervores t 65 20 Disharmonic Folds in the Tamaulipas Formation in Canada Los Coyoles t 66


41 The Nacimiento del Rio Purifcacion t 107 viii Figure Page 21 Disharmonic Folds in the Tamaulipas Formation in Canon t Los Hervores t 66 22 Decollement Surface in the Lower Tamaulipas Limestone in Canon Los Hervores t 68 23 Cross-section Through Canon El Infiernillo t 7124 Calcite Gouge Between Nearly Vertical Tamaulipas Beds in the Netherhall t 7325 Schematic Profile of Laramide Folding t 75 26 Radial Histograms of Faults t 77' 27 Radial Histograms of Tectonic Features t 78 28 Fault Within the Tamabra Formation in the Historic Section of Cueva del Brinco t 79 29 Cliff in the Tamaulipas Formation South of Galindo t 84 30 Looking South at the Head of Canon El Infiernillo t 85` 31 Fresh rockfall in Canon Los Hervores t 88 32 Zanjon on Road Between La Curva and Los Caballos t 90 33 Grike Field on Top of Cerro Zapatero t 91 34 Grike Field on West Side of Cerro Vaquerillo t 91 35 Place in Arroyo Luna Where Water Sinks into Gravel t 9736 Karst Field on Mesas Juarez t 98' 37 Easternmost Karst Floodwater Spring in Canon El Infiernillo t 101 38 Middle Karst Floodwater Spring in Carton El Infiernillo . 102, 39 Entrance of Cueva de Infiernillo t 103 40 The Vauclusian Spring, Los Hervores t 104


Figure Page 42 t Hydrochemistry of the Sistema Purificacion Area t 108,109 43 t The Main Sump, March 1980 t 113 44 t Decline Curve for December 1979 Flood t 115 45 t 4-Way Junction in Cueva de Infiernillo t 11746 t Cross-section Through Cerro Zapatero and Sistema Purificacion t 126 ,47 t The Anticline Exposed By Ceiling Breakdown in the Monkey Walk t : t 130 48 t Nodule of Altered Pyrite in the Netherhall t 134 49 The Confusion Tubes t 137 ix


LIST OF PLATES Plate I t Geologic Map of the Sistema Purificacion Area II t Sistema Purificacion Map III t Vertical Profile of the Sistema Purificacion x


ABSTRACT Sistema Purificacion, a large cave system in the northern Sierra Madre Oriental of northeastern Mexico, is developed in the Tamaulipas and Tamabra Formations, a sequence of middle Cretaceous carbonates about 400 meters thick The formations formed in a basinal to periplatform environment near the Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi, a large carbonate platform simultaneously developing to the south and southwest The Tamaulipas Formation is stratigraphically underlain by shaly limestone, shale, sandstone, and conglomerate of the Early Cretaceous Taraises, the Late Jurassic La Caja, and the Late .Jurassic i La Joya Formations The cave system is on the west flank of the Anticlinorio HuizachalPeregrina, which is one of many large Laramide folds making up the Sierra Madre Oriental Most of the lateral shortening within the carbonates was accomodated by slippage along decollement surfaces and abundant second-, third-, and fourth-order folds Except along decollement surfaces, faults are rare and have offsets less than three meters Steeply inclined joints trending N5W are common near axial planes, probably resulting from fracturing along incipient axial plane cleavage during stress relaxation following Laramide folding The cave has several hydrologic systems, all of which ultimately drain northeast into the Rio Purificacion Impervious beds in the Tamabra, Taraises, La Caja, and La Joya Formations cause groundwater to flow to the surface, resulting in many small springs Larger springs xi


emerge from karst conduits in the Tamaulipas Formation, particularly during and after intense rains The Sinclinal de Infiernillo, a north-trending second-order syncline west of the cave, in combination with the impervious beds in the La Joya, acts as a local hydrologic barrier Water in the carbonates is perched in the trough of the syncline The principal geologic factors controlling the development of the Sistema Purificacion are the stratigraphy and structure of the area Passages in the upper and lower cave are commonly formed along the intersection of joints and bedding planes, sub-parallel to the dip The middle part of the cave is within a third-order, anticline-syncline pair whose axial surfaces are about 150 meters apart and trend northsouth Passages develop sub-parallel to the axial surfaces where incipient cleavage provides zones of permeability and enhance conduit development X11


CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Objectives The Sistema Purificacion is the longest known cave system in Mexico (Sprouse, 1980) Its total length is unknown but 38 kilometers of traversable passage have been surveyed as of February 1981 (Sprouse, 1981, personal communication) This figure places Sistema Purificacion as the 8th longest known cave system in the Western Hemisphere and the 18th longest in the world (Anonymous, 1980) The seven longer caves in the West are in the United States The longer systems to the north are in areas of low to moderate relief and in subhorizontal carbonate sections of 200 meters of less in thickness Each cave has less than 200 meters of relief Sistema Purificacion is developed in a thick carbonate section within a mountain range that extends two kilometers above the coastal plain In addition, it is the second most vertically developed cave known in the Western Hemisphere with 895 meters of known subterranean relief Sistema Huautla, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, has a surveyed depth Sistema Huautla, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, has a surveyed depth of 1221 meters (Sprouse, 1980) It is the objective of this thesis to determine the hydrologic patterns for the area containing Sistema Purificacion and to determine what geologic factors have controlled the development of these patterns Since all drainage in the area enters karst conduits, the following specific questions have been studied : 1


1 To what extent and in what manner do internal variations in the carbonate section influence the development of karst features and groundwater conduits? 2 To what extent and in what manner do geologic structures influence the development of karst features and groundwater conduits? 3 In what manner does Sistema Purificacion fit into the regional stratigraphy and structure and which factors contribute to the development of this unique feature? General Procedure I In order to develop an understanding of the geologic controls on the hydrologic system and the cave, the geology of the area was mapped to determine structural and lithologic properties of the rocks Field mapping of the surface and subsurface was undertaken Petrologic determinations of the various units were made in the field and in the laboratory facilities at California State University, Los Angeles To determine components of the hydrologic flow patterns, fluorescein sodium salt was used in an attempt to trace streams through nontraversable underground water conduits The chemical characteristics of some of the water were investigated in the field and in the laboratory The field investigations for this thesis took place during November 1979 to January 1980, March through May 1980, and October and November 1980 Research and laboratory investigations were conducted 2


between October 1979 and July 1980 Geographic Setting 1 Location Sistema Purificacion is located in a front range of the Sierra Madre Oriental, approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Ciudad Victoria (Figure 1) The upper portion of the system is beneath the village of Conrado Castillo, near the western boundary of the state of Tamaulipas The lower part of the system extends to the north with a lower entrance at the head of Canon El Infiernillo (Plate I) The study area extends to the north to include the largest spring in the area, Los Hervores, north of Latitude 24  The western boundary follows the Arroyo Luna and Canada Los Coyoles It trends south near Los Caballos The eastern boundary is defined by the occurrence of the La Joya Formation, a clastic, non-carbonate unit The east-west line, 1 .5 kilometers south of Conrado Castillo, forms the southern boundary These borders contain the area over the entire known Sistema Purificacion Aerial photographs at a scale of about 1 :50000 and high quality topographic and reconnaissance geologic maps, also at a scale of 1 :50000 were obtained from Detenal, the cartographic branch of the Mexican government The Casas Reales map covers all of the subterranean system that has been explored and areas to the south The area north of Latitude 24  is included in the Villa Hidalgo map 3


2 Topography and Drainage The land sutface of the study area is rugged and has high relief The elevations range from a low of 490 meters in Canon Los Hervores to 2325 meters south of Conrado Castillo During most of the year, there is little surface flow of water in the area and there is no surface water flowing into the study area Several springs are present, but with the exception of Los Hervores, all spring water returns underground within the study area During and after heavy rains, surface water flows down Arroyo Luna In the lower regions, the runoff floods the subterranean conduit system and the excess water flows through surface canyons At all I times, the water ultimately joins the Rio Purificacion to the north (Figure 2) and flows eastward to the Gulf of Mexico 3 Vegetation, Climate, and Land Use The region is a pine-oak forest (Leopold, 1950) Frost is common during winter nights but snow is rare The moisture from the coastal plain to the east often causes clouds to engulf the mountains and humid, sub-tropical undergrowth is a part of most shaded areas The climate is temperate and the mountains receive moderate annual precipitation There are no weather stations within the study area The closest station is Estacion El Barretal, along the Rio Purificacion, at an elevation of 196 meters At this station, the average annual rainfall is 780 mm (Figure 3) The monthly distribution of rainfall over a 16 year period had a 5


bimodal pattern (Figure 4) Heaviest rainfall is usually in September when the region experiences occasional hurricanes Average rainfall in September at Estacion El Barretal is about 187 mm June averages about 145 mm of rainfall, the second wettest month A relatively dry season extends from November through March Logging is the principal industry of the region One active and four abandoned sawmills (aserraderos) are within the study area Several others are in the surrounding mountains The lumber is taken to Ciudad Victoria by trucks Lead, zinc, silver, mercury, and copper have been mined in the past, but presently there are no active mines within the study area A small barite operation is nearby, approximately one kilometer south of La Curva The ore is also transported out of the mountains by truck 4 Accessibility Access into the area requires a four to six hour trip over about 60 kilometers of poorly maintained roads During dry conditions, high clearance, low-geared, two-wheel-drive vehicles are necessary The alternative methods for traveling are to ride on the back of a logging truck from Ciudad Victoria, a form of quasi-public transportation, or traveling by foot or animal on a network of trails The higher portions of the study area have good accessibility on roads Some old logging and mining tracks are passable by a fourwheel-drive vehicle, and two main roads circle near the perimeter of 8


the upper area The canyon bottoms, however, are only reached by trails or hiking cross-country Trails are frequently overgrown and a machete is a necessary piece of equipment for working in the lower parts of the region Access to the cave system is possible by 12 entrances into five different areas (Plate II) Although the highest parts of the cave are dry, travel in the Valkyrie River passage, into the central part of the system, beyond The Chute in the Historic Section, or through the canals in the Oyamel Section requires partial or full submergence in water and a wet suit is necessary for protection against hypothermia The lower portion of the cave is drier than the central part under normal conditions and on a trip up toward the upper passages, a wet suit is not required until one is south of the Wind Tunnels The cave contains a great amount of vertical relief but ropes are required in only a few places A trip from the highest entrance, Entrada de Los Franceses, through the cave, to the lowest entrance, Cueva de Infiernillo, a total drop of 850 meters, requires only two ropes A third rope is needed to leave or enter Cueva de Infiernillo Previous Work Sistema Purificacion is located in the Cretaceous limestones of the northern Sierra Madre Oriental Although no field study has previously been made in this area, the stratigraphic units involved have been extensively studied in the Tampico Embayment to the southeast In attempts to increase their understanding of the units, 9


petroleum geologists have also made limited reconnaisance studies in the canyons along the eastern front range of the Sierra Madre Oriental Some of these projects included Canon de El Rosario, Canon de la Esperanza, and Canon El Olmo, each about six to ten air kilometers east of Sistema Purificacion Unfortunately, much of the previous work has not been published because the information is in the forms of confidential oil company reports and unpublished graduate student theses The Triassic-Jurassic sedimentary sequence, part of which outcrops within the study area and also forms the eastern boundary, has been studied by R B Mixon (1958 ; 1963) and is discussed by Mixon et al i (1959) Carrillo B (1961) reviewed the information available on these units, primarily citing Mixon's work Belcher (1979) also studied the sequence The stratigraphy and lithology of the Cretaceous limestones, as they occur in the oil fields to the southeast of Ciudad Victoria, have been described by Baker (1928), Muir (1936), Imlay (1944), Carrasco V (1977), and Enos (1977) The biostratigraphy of these limestones has been discussed by Burkhardt (1930) and Bonet M (1952 ; 1956 ; 1963) The biostratigraphy of the same limestones, as they outcrop in Canon de Peregrina about 40 kilometers southeast of the study area, has been studied by Gamper (1977) The geology, particularly the stratigraphy, of northern Mexico has been summarized in Murray (1961), Murray and Krutak (1963), and Enos (1974) Heim (1940) and Baker (1971) described work done in the Sierra 1 0


Madre Oriental in the 1930's and 1940's Investigations carried out by Petroleos Mexicanos and others between 1962 and 1967 on the Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi are summarized by Carrillo B (1971) The platform was a major feature during the middle and Late Cretaceous to the south of the study area Canon de la Peregrina, about 40 kilometers southeast of the study area, has been the site of several geologic investigations The biostratigraphy of the Cretaceous limestones in this canyon has been studied by Gamper (1977) Numerous field trips and guidebooks for trips have featured Canon de la Peregrina (Humphrey and Diaz, 1953 ; Diaz, 1956 ; Corpus Cljristi Geological Society, 1963 ; Pan American Geological Society, 1974) Sistema Purificacion is located on the western flank of the Huizachal-Peregrina anticlinorium Few papers have focused on the anticlinorium, outside of Canon de la Peregrina One exception is a comprehensive paper by Carrillo B (1961) Early in this century, Nason (1909) recognized the region as providing "exceptional facilities for studying rock folding phenomena" but he did not discuss the area in detail Mexico possesses spectacular caves and surface karst Many of the deepest pits in the world are located in the Sierra Madre Oriental (Courbon, 1979) Nine of the ten deepest cave systems in the Western Hemisphere are in Mexico, many in the Sierra Madre Oriental However, until recently little information had been published on the speleological potential within the country 1 1


Hydrologists, anthropologists, and other observers have discussed the cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Mayan utilization of them as water sources, since the middle of last century (Stephens, 1842) In 1953, Bonet M published the first two articles-on caves within the Sierra Madre Oriental The first article described some caves near Xilitla, San Luis Potosi (Bonet M ., 1953a), southwest of Ciudad Valles The second paper discussed the karst and caves of the Sierra de El Abra, north of Ciudad Valles (Bonet M1953b) The Pemex Travel Club published a tourist guide to primarily commercial caves in Mexico (Anonymous, 1964) J H Bretz (1955) discussed the genesis of La Gruta de Cacahuamilpa in the state of Guerrero Cave explorers, primarily from the United States and Canada, began exploring and surveying caves in Mexico in the 1960's Much of the work done by these cavers was published in local organization newsletters and the information through 1971 was packaged, in guidebook form, in Russell and Raines (1967) and Walsh (1972) Since that time, the Association for Mexican Cave Studies (AMCS) has published numerous bulletins and newsletters describing caves and exploration activities in Mexico The well-developed karst hydrology of much of the Sierra Madre Oriental has received little attention to date Harmon (1971) published a brief analysis of karst water chemistry in the Sierra de El Abra, south of Ciudad Victoria Mitchell et al (1977) speculated briefly on the nature of the karst aquifer in the Sierra de El Abra based on biological evidence An unpublished doctoral thesis written by John E Fish (1977) provided a regional groundwater model for the 1 2


Sierra de El Abra Generalized papers on the groundwater resources of Mexico have included Benassini and Garcia (1957), Stretta (1961), and del Rio and Wilson (1970) Prior to this paper, no scientific report has been made concerning the caves or karst development in the Huizachal-Peregrina anticlinorium Reports on cave exploration activities, often including observations of interest to ; the speleologist or karst geomorphologist, have been written by Sprouse (1977a ; 1977b), Sprouse et al (1977), Pate (1979 ; 1980), and Treacy (1979 ;1980) These cavers, along with other participants in the Proyecto Espeleologico Purificacion, have prepared maps of 38 kilometers of passage in the main system (Plate II) and of numerous smaller caves in the study area 1 3


CHAPTER II REGIONAL GEOLOGIC SETTING Stratigraphy The Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina is an anticlinorium that has been eroded along its axis, exposing older rocks than those which outcrop on the flanks The oldest rocks in the region surrounding the Sistema Purificacion are layered granulites of Precambrian age They compose the heavily folded and faulted core of this major anticline The anticlinorium exposes a sequence of sedimentary rocks, more than 6000 meters thick, ranging in age from early Paleozoic to early Eocene (Figure 5) Greater than 2200 meters of the section are continentally derived rocks and about 4000 meters of the sequence are of marine origin 1 Precambrian The Novillo Gneiss, a layered granulitic complex of granitic gneiss, amphibolite, garnetiferous anorthosite, and micaceous marble, is the only confirmed Precambrian unit exposed in the core of the anticlinorium (Fries et al ., 1962 ; Garrison et al ., 1980) A green-schist facies, reported to be Precambrian by Carrillo B (1961), has been determined by rubidium-strontium analytical techniques to be of Paleozoic age (Tardy et al ., undated), All of the Precambrian rocks have been metamorphosed and strongly folded and faulted, indicating intense metamorphism and deformation 1 4


during the Precambrian Late-kinematic basalt and post-tectonic plagiogranite and granite dikes cut through the Novillo Gneiss The samples of the plagiogranite provided an isochron that gives an age of 774 + 256 m .y ., using rubidium-strontium dating techniques (Garrison et al ., 1980) Contacts between the Precambrian rocks and younger units are faulted, representing massive tectonic disruption of the terrain at a later time The Novillo Gneiss has a rhythmic compositional layering that resembles a layered mafic igneous complex of alternating mafic and felsic lithologies Garrison et al (1980) believe a layered intrusive to be the precursor or the formation However, the presence of marble layers in Canones de la Peregrina and Caballeros and rounded zircons throughout the unit suggest a sedimentary precursor for at least a part of the formation (Denison et al ., 1971) 2 Paleozoic The Paleozoic Era is represented by two groups of rocks One is a sequence of unmetamorphosed, fossiliferous, folded and faulted marine sedimentary rocks, predominantly shale and limestone, ranging in age from possible Cambrian and Ordovician and conclusive mid-Silurian to mid-Permian (Carrillo B ., 1959, 1961 ; Mixon et al ., 1959) Deformation and a hiatus in deposition during the Late Mississippian and the Late Pennsylvanian Periods are indicated by two unconformities in the Paleozoic section (de Cserna et al ., 1977) The other unit of Paleozoic rocks exposed in the breached core of 1 6


the anticlinorium is the GranjenolSchist This unit is in tectonic contact with both the marine sedimentary rocks of Paleozoic age and the Precambrian Novillo Gneiss Metamorphism took place before the units were in contact and the juxtaposing occurred before the Mesozoic Era The Granjeno Schist is an interlayered sequence of pelitic schists, spilitic metagraywacke, serpentinite, and minor amounts of metachert Garrison et al (1980) found that isochrons from different samples of this heterogenous unit provided considerably different ages and initial ratios They combined all of the whole rock and mineral data for the pelitic samples into a composite isochron that corresponds to an age of 350 + 35 m .y They believe this date represents the time of deposition of the protolith of the Granjeno Schist, not the age of the low-grade metamorphism event 3, Mesozoic a Triassic Sedimentary deposition during the Mesozoic began in the late Triassic with the deposition of a sequence of red, green, and greenish gray shale, siltstone, sandstone, and conglomerate Red is the predominant color The name, Huizachal Formation, was apparently first proposed by D R Seemes in 1921 in a private report for the Mexican Eagle Petroleum Company (Carrillo B ., 1961) The formation was formally defined in the literature by Imlay et al (1948) Later, Mixon (1958) and Mixon et al (1959) proposed calling the unit the La Boca Formation T hey further proposed to combine these rocks with the overlying La .Toya 17


Formation to establish a Huizachal Group The appropriateness of this formal Group has been questioned by other geologists (Belcher, 1979 ; de Cserna, 1979, personal communication) Locally, the Huizachal Formation is more than 2000 meters thick and is composed of continentally derived rocks It overlies Paleozoic sediments and Precambrian rocks with an angular discordance (Carrillo B ., 1961) de Cserna (1956) interpreted the lithologic and tectonic characteristics of the rocks to represent a continental "molasse" type of deposition that resulted from the erosion of structures produced by a late Permian-early Triassic orogeny Belcher (1979) describes them as alluvial fan deposits formed in actively subsiding grabens Deposition of the Huizachal Formation continued until the mid-Jurassic, after which there appears to have been an hiatus b Jurassic 1 .) La Joya Formation Early and Middle Jurassic was a time of active faulting and folding Some incipient metamorphism occurred in the Huizachal Formation (Mixon et al ., 1959), and an undetermined amount of the Huizachal Formation was eroded When deposition of the La Joya began in the Late Jurassic, an angular disconformity was created The angularity is almost 90  in places (Mixon et al ., 1959) Irregular deposits of the La Joya overlie Paleozoic and Precambrian rocks in some areas It thickens, wedges, and in places, is not present It probably only filled in depressions in the pre-Upper 18


Jurassic landscape Deposition of the unit was discontinued early in the Oxfordian (Carrillo B ., 1961) Belcher (1979) considers this formation to have resulted from further alluvial fan deposition in the block-faulted terrane Mixon (1958) defined the La Joya Formation as more than 65 meters of red beds in the Huizachal-Peregrina anticlinorium Mixon et al (1959) further subdivided the formation into three units 1 A basal conglomerate that is poorly sorted, as much as 20 meters thick, lithologically variable, and composed of fragments of igneous and metamorphic rocks and underlying red beds 2 Thin limestone and limestone conglomerate 3 Red shale, siltstone, and fine-grained orthoquartzite that grades upwards into red, pink, or green units The upper beds are fine to very coarse, cross-bedded quartzite and predominantly pink conglomerate 2 .) Zuloaga Formation The Zuloaga Formation of the Oxfordian Stage in the Late Jurassic has a basal conglomerate composed of quartz grains, angular clasts from the Huizachal and La Joya Formations, and igneous pebbles It varies from one to ten meters thick (Burkhardt, 1930) The limestone is fine-grained or cryptocrystalline with scattered oolitic and calcarenite zones one to two meters thick The thickness of the formation is 25 to 60 meters in Cafiones Olmo, Rosario, and Esperanza, the canyons closest to the study area (Carrillo B ., 1961) 1 9


3 .) Olvido Formation Limestone, shale, and evaporites compose the Upper Jurassic Olvido Formation, a name first proposed by Heim (1940) The Olvido is discontinuous, and it is only found in low regions along the erosional surface at the top of the Zuloaga Formation The Olvido Formation is 100 meters thick in Canon del Rio Purificacion and it is 140 to 160 meters thick in Canon Esperanza and Canon Rosario (Carrillo B ., 1961) A 25 meter thick unit of fine-grained, creamy white limestone with medium-thick beds provides an easily identifiable index horizon to determine the contact between the Olvido and La Casita Formations i 4 .) La Casita/La Caja Formation The La Casita Formation conformably overlies the Olvido Formation It is also an Upper Jurassic deposit, formed during the Kimmeridgian-Portlandian Stages and has been interpreted by Carrillo B (1961) to represent a littoral and lagunal margin deposit In the canyons east of the study area, the unit is reported to be a 70to 90-meter thick sequence of black and gray shaly limestone, black shale, and dark gray sandy "marl" Elsewhere in northern and central Mexico, the basinward, less clastic equivalent is called the La Caja Formation, a sequence of thin-bedded limestone, "marl", and shale (Imlay, 1943) c Cretaceous 1 .) Taraises Formation Carrillo B (1961) has estimated the thickness of the Creta2 0


ceous sediments in the anticlinorium to be between 1500 and 1900 meters (Figure 6) The Taraises Formation is the oldest unit of the sequence Because of the similar appearance of the Taraises Formation and the Tamaulipas Formation, the two formations have often been mapped as one The Taraises Formation consists of gray to black, cryptocrystalline limestone and sandy shale with medium to thick' beds, poorly developed stylolites parallel to bedding and scarce chert Thin shale beds are common and bentonitic shale is reported by Carrillo B (1961) to be present in Canon Rosario and Canon del Rio Purificacion The Taraises Formation is 50 to 60 meters thick in Canon Rosario ( Carrillo B ., 1961) and 68 meters thick in Canon de la Peregrina (Gamper, 1977) The contact of the Taraises Formation with the La Casita Formation is reported to be sharp but concordant In most places, the basal part of the unit has fossil beds with abundant ammonites, cephalopods, and some belemnites The age of these fossils was determined to be Neocomian by Schmittou (1926) Gamper (1977) reports microfossil assemblages that represent the Berriasian Substage for the lower part of the unit and the Valanginian Substage for the top of the unit 2 .) Tamaulipas Formation A gradational contact separates the Taraises Formation and the Tamaulipas Formation, a deposit that in this part of Mexico dates from the Valanginian Substage and the mid-Aptian Stage (Gamper 1979) The term, Tamaulipas Formation, was first introduced in 1921 by L W Stephenson in a Mexican Gulf Oil Company report (Muir, 1936) It was 21


not formally used in literature until 1936 when Muir divided the formation into three members They were the Lower Tamaulipas, the Otates, and the Upper Tamaulipas Members Muir also designated the Sierra de Tamaulipas, southeastof Ciudad Victoria, as the type area In 1953, Humphrey and Diaz G redefined the limestone They included the Lower Tamaulipas in the Cupido Formation, a unit which had previously been described in localities to the north The Otates division was established as a separate formation The Upper Tamaulipas Member was divided into two formations, a lower Tamaulipas Formation and the upper Cuesta_del Cura Formation These terms and definitions 1 were used by most workers for the following decade (Pessagno, 1969) During the past twenty years, however, workers have used various combinations of the two methods of grouping (Carrillo B ., 1961 ; Murray and Krutak, 1963) The lowest unit is usually called the Tamaulipas Formation or the Formacion Tamaulipas Inferior, a fine grain limestone that was deposited during the Neocomian-Aptian Stages It has a gray to yellowish gray color with chert and stylolites_parallel to bedding It also contains microfauna that are exclusively pelagic (Bonet M ., 1963) 3 .) Otates Formation The Otates Formation is a sequence of dark gray to black, carbonaceous, argillaceous limestone and sandy-conglomeratic "marl" with black chert nodules and black shale beds that were deposited during the Aptian (Murray, 1961 ; Carrillo B ., 1971) Noticeable quantities 22


of siliceous material are present in the formation The contact between the Tamaulipas and the Otates has been described as sharp but conformable In Rio Guayalejo canyon, the Otates is decribed as a 10to 12meter thick unit of 10 to 20 centimeter thick beds of black to yellowish gray limestone alternating with dark gray to black shale The unit contains some calcareous concretions, lenses of black chert, and nodules of hematite (Carrillo B ., 1961) In Canon de la Peregrina, Gamper (1977) considered it infeasible to separate out the Otates Formation A similar situation exist in the Poza Rica oil fields and near l Xilitla, San Luis Potbsi Near the Cretaceous platform, the Tamabra Formation replaces the Tamaulipas Superior Formation as the middle Cretaceous unit and the existence of the Otates Formation is questionable (Carrasco V ., 1977 ; Enos, 1977) 4 .) Tamaulipas Superior Formation The Tamaulipas Superior Formation has been divided into two units with a total thickness of approximately 270 to 400 meters Carrillo B (1961) states that the two divisions are well-defined, both lithologically and paleontologically, and meet the necessary requirements to be classified as formations . However, he and other authors referred to the units as the Inferior and Superior Members Gamper (1977) assigned the lower unit to the Tamaulipas Formation and the upper unit to the Cuesta del Cura Formation The Inferior Member is a cryptocrystalline, creamy gray to black 2 4


limestone with medium to thick beds and poorly developed stylolites parallel to bedding It also contains some black chert nodules Contacts of this member with the underlying Otates Formation and the overlying Superior Member are concordant The thickness of this member throughout its known existence in Mexico is 110 to 200 meters It is reported to be 110 meters thick in Canon de la Peregrina (Carrillo B ., (1961) The Superior Member is lithologically equivalent to the Cuesta del Cura Formation of northern Mexico It is a cryptocrystalline limestone of gray, steel gray, and black color and medium beds The limestone alternates with thin to moderate beds of laminated, steel gray "marl" Carrillo B (1971) also briefly describes a clastic turbidite deposit derived from the reef zone as a part of the unit The age of the member is Albian to late Cenomanian (Carrillo B ., 1961 ; Bonet M ., 1963) 5 .) El Abra Formation A large carbonate platform, La Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi, built up a short distance to the south and west of Sistema Purificacion during the middle and Late Cretaceous The reefs were tabular, unlike modern coral reefs (Bonet M ., 1953) Carrillo B .'s map of the areal extent of the platform shows it within four kilometers of Sistema Purificaci'on (Figure 7) The platform was steep-sided and of high-relief, probably the result of rapid vertical accretion on a pre-existing topographic high (Carrillo B ., 1971) The scale and relief were comparable to the 25


Permian Capitan Reef or the Holocene Bahama Banks (Enos, 1974) This platform provided ideal conditions for the accumulation of basin-margin debris aprons, thus some of the thick carbonate section in the area of Sistema Purificacion was derived from the platform (Figure 8) 6 .) Tamabra Formation The name, Tamabra Formation, was first proposed by Heim (1940) for the entire limestone complex beneath the San Felipe o r Agua Nueva He defined three facies within the Tamabra Formation They were the basinal facies Tamaulipas, the reef facies El Abra, and the back-reef facies Taninul Barnetche and Illing (1956), working in the Poza Rica field, redefined the Tamabra Formation as "the dominantly bioclastic limestone-dolomite sequence which underlies the San Felipe and Agua Nueva limestone, marl, and shale and overlies and laterally merges southwestward into the calcilutitic impervious limestone which is similar to the Tamaulipas of the Sierra Madre ." Later authors have suggested renaming the basin-margin facies to avoid further terminology confusion They preferred the name, Poza Rica Formation (Bonet M ., 1963 ; Carrasco V ., 1977) Carrasco V (1970) has also proposed the name Miembro El Socavon of the Formacion El Abra for sediments around the Platform and transitional with sediments of the basin Carrillo B (1971) referred to the Tamabra Formation as the forereef facies composed of reef talus that has been partially or fully dolomitized and forms a zone of interdigitation of basin limestone 27


(Cuesta del Cura) with biocalcarenite limestone clasts derived from the reef zone The formation is defined for the Poza Rica area by Enos (1977) as a "wedge of skeletal limestone and breccia with abundant shallow-water organisms, particularly rudistids, interlayered with and enclosed on top, bottom, and west side by fine-grained limestone with pelagic microfossils ." He describes the breccia as generally "closed-work" and containing euhedral rhombohedral crystals of dolomite that have replaced the matrix in many wackestones Based on fauna and the stratigraphic position of the unit in the Poza Rica oil field region, the Tamabra Formation is interpreted as Albian and Cenomanian age Carrillo B (1971) suggests the formation is the result of submarine mud currents produced by the sliding of unconsolidated or partially consolidated basinal sediments and segments of reef growth along platform margins Enos (1977) points out that the long axes of the clasts commonly are at a high angle to bedding and, thus, the unit is not the result of ordinary current deposition or rockfall He suggests a viscous or plastic medium, such as debris flows, for deposition The Tamabra Formation is a good oil producer and fresh samples frequently contain a strong odor of petroleum (Heim, 1940 ; Enos, 1977) It has been identified along the east flanks of the Miquihuana Arch, southwest of Ciudad Victoria, and in the Poza Rica oil field further south (Carrillo B ., 1961) 28


7 .) Agua Nueva Formation The contact between the Agua Nueva Formation and the underlying limestone is discordant At the base of the Agua Nueva are thin beds of white, yellow, and green bentonite and a bed of calcareous clasts consisting of sub-angular, poorly sorted fragments of shale and chert from the underlying Tamaulipas Superior The clastic layer is a marker for the contact in some areas and has been interpreted as a thrust plane along the contact by Baker (1971) and as the result of erosion the Tamaulipas Superior by Muir (1936) The Agua Nueva Formation is a sequence of cryptocrystalline limestone, shaly limestone, and shaly-carbonaceous limestone It is gray to black, thinto medium-bedded, and alternates with dark gray to black shales The lower part of the unit contains abundant black chert and hematite nodules Gamper (1977) states that deposition of the unit during the Turonian and early Santonian In Canon de la Esperanza, the unit is 180 meters thick (Muir, 1936) The upper contact with the San Felipe is transitional and concordant 8 .) San Felipe Formation The San Felipe Formation has been defined as alternating layers of shale and limestone of Cenomanian and lower Santonian age (Muir, 1936) Gamper (1977) describes it as a pelitic flysch The unit was first established by G Jeffreys in an unpublished report in Tampico in 1910 Muir (1936) divided the formation into two units The Lower San Felipe 2 9 is a greenish gray limestone with a small amount of shale and a lilac


colored tuffaceous bed at the top It has a maximum thickness in Canon de la Peregrina of 225 meters (Gamper, 1977) 9 .) Mendez Shale The youngest formation in the region is the Mendez Shale This unit is a silty, shaly limestone of late Campanian to middle Maestrichtian age Enos (1974) describes it as a locally flysch-like, terrigenous-derived, clastic rock This formation represents the final deposition before orogenic forces lifted the area above sea level during the latest Cretaceous and early Tertiary It is about 800 meters thick in Canon de la Peregrina (Gamper, 1977) -Structure Sistema Purificaci'on is on the west flank of the Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina in the northern portion of the Sierra Madre Oriental The Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range is the largest segment of the early Cenozoic foreland fold and thrust belt of southern North America and northern Central America The range extends south and southeastward from southwest Texas, through Chiapas, and into Guatemala and Honduras It is about 20 kilometers wide and is bounded on the east and north by the Gulf Coastal Plain The Central Mexican Plateau and the Sierra Madre del Sur border it to the west and south, respectively The general trend of the mountains is about N14W The Huizachal-Peregrina anticlinorium is one of many large folds that make up the Sierra Madre Oriental The Valle de Jaumave, an elon3 0


gate, synclinal valley bounds it to the west The east side of the anticlinorium is bordered by Sinclinal de Ciudad Victoria, another synclinal valley Folding in this region has been compared to that in the mountains of Jura and is considered entirely different from the folding in the Alps (Heim, 1940) There are reported to be detachment surfaces between the Upper Jurassic and the Cretaceous sediments and between the Triassic and preTriassic rocks throughout the Sierra Madre Oriental (Muir, 1936 ; Tardy et al ., undated) Separations may have been facilitated by gypsum beds in the Olvido Formation and possibly by shale layers in the La Joya Formation (Carrillo B ., 1961) Various authors have recognized numerous chevron folds in the Cretaceous carbonates on the east flank of the anticlinorium with axial planes most frequently dipping eastward (Nason, 1909 ; Carrillo B ., 1971 ; Conklin, 1974) Folding on the gentler west flank has not been recognized by previous authors and the Cretaceous rocks have been assumed to dip uniformly to the west (Conklin, 1974) The folds on the east flank of the anticlinorium are reported to be smoother and less common towards the synclinal axis to the east The frequency of folding also reduces with depth, indicating the probable importance of bedding detachment surfaces (Carrillo B ., 1961) Belcher (1979) has documented a horst block within the core of the anticlinorium He places the western boundary about one kilometer east of Conrado Castillo and Cueva El Infiernillo (Figure 9) He proposes that the horst blocks, developed between the Late Permian and Middle 31


Figure 9 . Area proposed by Belcher (1979) as a Mesozoic horst is outlined by dashed lines 32


Jurassic, acted as buttresses and interrupted tectonic transport of allochthonous strata during the Laramide Orogeny Folds on top positive elements are broad and low amplitude, reflecting the absence of thick, incompetent sequences below the Aptian-Albian limestone across the highs Intensive faulting and folding occurred during the Precambrian and sporadically continued during the Paleozoic While the Cretaceous rocks were folded and uplifted over 300 meters in places, few faults are recorded in these younger rocks Folding apparently accomodated most of the lateral shortening Mineralization Little information is published on the mineralization of the region Lead, zinc, silver, mercury, and copper have been mined in minor quatities in the past Barite is presently being mined from the upper part of the La Joya Formation approximately one kilometer south of La Curva, All mines and prospects within the study area are abandoned Lead-zinc deposits accompanied by copper and silver are recognized in the Lower Cretaceous limestone in many parts of Mexico Most of the deposits are on the basinward side of carbonate reef platforms, as in the location of the study a rea d e Cserna (1976) compares these deposits with the Pine Point ore field of Canada About six kilometers west of the study area is the village of Dulces Nombres (Figure 2), where mining was active near the turn of the century and still continues as a small-scale operation today (Baker, 3 3


1971 ; W Russell, 1980, personal communication) Iron ores and lead carbonate, oxide, and sulphide, accompanied by silver, are mined along the contact with the underlying shale, conglomerate, and sandstone Geologic History 1 Precambrian Rubidium-strontium and potassium-argon data on granulites confirm the existence of Precambrian rocks in the core of the Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina (Fries et al ., 1962 ; Denison et al ., 1971 ; Garrison et al ., 1980) These rocks may have been part of the Oaxaca Geosyncline, a Precambrian geosyncline that may have extended north from the r state of Oaxaca (Lopez R ., 1969 ; Corpstein, 1974) Other authors have proposed a layered intrusive as the protolith (Garrison et al ., 1980) The material was metamorphosed, folded, and faulted during the middle and late Proterozoic, possibly part of the Grenvillian Orogeny (Carrillo B ., 1971) 2 Paleozoic Early in the Paleozoic Era, a large, possibly intracontinental, geosyncline, the Mexican Paleozoic Geosyncline, encompassed the study area along the syncline's eastern edge (Carrillo B ., 1971 ; Corpstein, 1974) Limestone, dolomite, sandstone, and novaculite were formed during the Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian in the shallow marine environment The region had further subsided by the Mississippian Period and a flysch-type sequence was deposited The Tamaulipeca 3 4


(Appalachian-Ouachita) Orogeny began in the late Pennsylvanian or early Permian, forming a large north-south trending range that provided the sediments for the Mesozoic formations The Granjeno Schist yielded an age of 330 + m .y by rubidiumstrontium dating techniques, probably the age of deposition of its precursor The interlayering of graywacke, apparent pillow basalt, and pelitic beds represent volcaniclast sediments deposited along an islandarc complex (Garrison et al ., 1980) An associated arc-plutonic complex may be represented by sub-surface granodiorite and granite east of Ciudad Victoria The back-arc bas i in metasediments, the Granjeno Schist, were thrust up onto the Paleozoic flysch wedge and Precambrian gneissic terrane along a convergent continental margin during the Late Paleozoic, possibly part of the Tamaulipeca Orogeny (Ramirez R ., 1978 ; Garrison et al ., 1980) The region of the study area began to emerge and was folded late in the Permian or early in the Triassic 3 Mesozoic The plate setting in northeast Mexico during the Mesozoic is disputed Many authors have suggested that most of northeastern Mexico, south of Torreon and Monterrey, was at least 150 kilometers to the west or northwest of its present location (Silver and Anderson, 1974 ; de Cserna, 1976 ; Pilger, 1978) Gose et al (1980) presented a model, based on paleomagnetic data in the Ciudad Victoria area, that would restore this part of Mexico to a position several hundred kilometers 3 5


west of its present relative position to the United States This model also requires rotating Mexico 130  counterclockwise since the Early Triassic, mostly occurring before the Early Jurassic Using limited paleomagnetic data from the same area, Belcher (1979) recognized 120  of counterclockwise rotation independent of North America between the Late Permian and Late Triassic He believes, howdyer, that Mexico has maintained its present latitudinal relationship to North America since Early Triassic and there has been no major strike-slip motion in northeastern Mexico The Huizachal Formation, probably deposited between the Early Permian and Middle (?) to Late Jurassic, may represent a molasse or alluvial fan deposit from highlands developing in the area by block faulting (de Cserna, 1956 ; Belcher, 1979) Sedimentation was more rapid than subsidence, changing the region from a reducing marine to an oxidizing, non-marine environment and resulting in the deposition of more than 2000 meters of green, gray, and red mudstone, shale, siltstone, sandstone, and conglomerate (Mixon, 1963) Block faulting and red bed deposition occurred in many places around the present Gulf of Mexico association with separation of the North American plate from South America (Ladd, 1976) The rifting resulted in the opening of the Gulf during the Late Triassic (Moore and Castillo, 1974) Igneous activity also occurred during the Triassic Period (Conklin, 1974) The beginning of the Jurassic coincided with the beginning of subsidence in the region and a marine transgression as a waterway was opened across Mexico to the Pacific Ocean It was a time of continued 3 6 in


block faulting and folding, resulting in some incipient metamorphism in the older Huizachal Formation (Mixon et al ., 1959) Afterwards, deposition of the La Joya in the Late Jurassic formed an angular unconformity Deposition continued in the low regions during the Oxfordian and Kimmeridgian Stages, creating the Zuloaga and Olvido Formations It was probably during the late Kimmeridgian that the Gulf opened to the Atlantic Ocean (Salvador, 1979) These units represent a shallow marine environment and evidence of a fluctuating transgression is provided by gypsum beds within the Olvido Formation By the end of the Late Jurassic, most or all of the present Sierra Madre Oriental region was inundated but not all areas were receiving sediments (Carrillo B ., 1961) The La Casita/La Caja Formation, a shaly limestone and shale unit, was deposited during this time Marine deposition continued during the Cretaceous The region was part of the Mexican Mesozoic Geosyncline, a probable southern extension of the Rocky Mountain Geosyncline (Williams and Stelck, 1975) The Neocomian Stage marked further transgression of the sea, corresponding to a facies change from the La Casita/La Caja Formation to the Taraises Formation, a product of upper bathyal conditions (Gamper, 1977) Deposition of the Tamaulipas Formation began in the middle Neocomian Stage The unit represents a pelagic facies and marks the start of near stability in the area and the interruption of the deposition of terrigenous material Concurrently, reefs are believed to have started developing along the margins of the large carbonate platform to the 3 7


of near stability in the area and the interruption of the deposition of terrigenous material Concurrently, reefs are believed to have started developing along the margins of the large carbonate platform to the south and southwest (Carrillo B ., 1971) An influx of argillaceous sediments in Aptian time is demonstrated by the presence of the Otates Formation in much of northeastern Mexico However, the unit is not present in some places near the platform-basin margin, demonstrating continuous, nearly pure, carbonate deposition throughout the Aptian, Albian, and Cenomanian Stages (Enos, 1977 ; Gamper, 1977) Near the end of the Aptian and the beginning of the Albian, the region subsided slightly Conditions were favorable for reef growth along the margins of La Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi to the south and southwest of the study area The bioherm grew within four kilometers of Sistema Purificaci6n (Figure 8) Deposition of the Tamaulipas Superior or Cuesta del Cura Formation continued in the basins to the east and north of the platform In some areas along the margin of the platform, a high-energy bioclastic and lithoclastic limestone sequence, the Tamabra Formation, developed during the Albian and Cenomanian Reef development ended during the Turonian and shaly limestone, the Agua Nueva Formation, was deposited in the study area Later, the San Felipe, a pelitic flysch sequence was formed during the Coniacian and Santonian Stages, as the land to the west continued to emerge The final unit to be deposited in the region was the Mendez Shale, formed during the Late Campanian to Middle Maestrichtian Deposition


of the flysch-like, terrigenous rock represented the beginning of a new orogenic era With the' close of the Cretaceous Period came the beginning of the Laramide Orogeny This mountain building event was the principal cause of most of the folding of the Sierra Madre Oriental, including the Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina The region was folded and the sea permanently withdrew Decollement structures were created in-the Jurassic and lower Cretaceous units Large concentric folds are complemented by smaller' kink and chevron folds in the Cretaceous beds Few faults resulted from this deformation and those which' are in the Cretaceous units have small displacemeets These deformations resulted from horizontal compression from west to east, probably a result of the collision and subduction of the Farallon plate along the west coast of the American plate (Helm, 1940, Atwater, 1970) As the region uplifted, major drainages continued to follow their original courses, incising deep canyons into the older sediments Canon del Novillo, Canon de la Peregrina, Canon de Caballeros, and other major canyons are superposed drainage systems that drain the west flank of the anticlinorium, flow across its axis, and continue eastward to the Gulf of Mexico (Conklin, 1974) 3 9


CHAPTER III STRATIGRAPHY AND LITHOLOGY OF THE AREA .Introduction The study area encompasses a total stratigraphic section of approximately 800 meters of marine sedimentary rocks, primarily carbonates The oldest unit exposed within the study area is the La Joya Formation, an Upper Jurassic deposit of shaly limestone, shale, sandstone, and conglomerate The youngest rocks are overbank deposits that are part of the middle Cretaceous Tamabra Formation The Upper Jurassic La Caja and the Early Cretaceous Taraises and Tamaulipas, consisting of basinal limestone and shale, are between the La Joya and Tamabra (Figure 10) As in Canon de la Peregrina (Gamper, 1977), the Otates Formation, described by Enos (1974) and Carrillo B (1961) as a well-defined, widespread, easily mappable stratigraphic marker, is absent The entire calcareous section between the Taraises and Tamabra Formations is considered in this paper to be the Tamaulipas Formation La Joya Formation The oldest exposed unit in the area, the La Joya Formation, is a calcareous, clastic unit composed of shale, shaly limestone, sandstone, and conglomerate It typically forms steep but not precipitous slopes, although low cliffs are locally present The conglomerate, sandstone, and siltstone beds are red to purple and contain clasts of siltstone and igneous and metamorphic rocks The limestone beds are a gray, argillaceous calcilutite and micrite 4 0


The Olvido and Zuloaga Formations are absent in the study area and the contact between the La Joya and overlying La Caja Formations is not exposed within the study area The contact appears disconformable in most locations Although the unit is similar to the La Caja Formation in Canones Esperanza, Rosario, and Olmo, described by Carrillo B (1961), it is called the La Caja Formation in this report because of its low clastic content and basin-like characteristics La Caja Formation The La Caja Formation is 70 meters thick within the study area and consists of calcareous shale and shaly limestone Bedding is 10 to 50 centimeters thick with poorly developed stylolites throughout most of the section A broken topography of steep slopes and cliffs is formed by the alternating shale and limestone The limestone beds are tan to steel gray micrites that commonly have been altered to pink or yellow Vugs, largely filled by sparry calcite, are common in some beds, Fractures are also filled with sparry calcite Chert occurs in small, sparse nodules Pyrite grains are present throughout the section Iron from weathered pyrite probably accounts for the pink and yellow color of the altered rock The calciummagnesium ratio of 23 :1 in Sample PEP 14 shows the presence of some dolomite (Figure 11) Ferrous carbonate in solid solution in the dolomite is another potential source of iron Approximately 17% of the limestone is insoluble in hydrochloric acid The insoluble residue consists of quartz pyrite chert fragments and clay 4 2


The shale beds form slopes and are usually covered by soil A strong reaction to hydrochloric acid indicates that most of the shale is calcareous A 20 centimeter thick bed of fissile non-calcareous shale about six meters above the base of the unit appears to be bentonitic In the upper half of the formation wavy to nodular bedding a structure that is characteristic of fine-grained argillaceous limestone like the La Caja Formation is moderately well-developed Pettijohn 1975 Shale is less common stylolites are less common and bedding is more clearly defined in the top five meters of the unit The upper contact with the Taraises Formation is gradational The top of the highest wavy bed was used as the contact in this report Taraises and Tamaulipas Formations Since the Otates is not present within the study area and the Taraises and lower Tamaulipas Formations appear indistinguishable the limestone between the La Caja and Tamabra Formations is discussed as one unit in this report The total thickness of the Tamaulipas and Taraises Formations is 380 meters of limestone and minor quantities of shale representing a long uninterrupted period of quiet basinal deposition The limestone is predominantly a micrite with some calcilutite in the upper Tamaulipas Microfossils are abundant and compose as much as 90% of the volume of some samples Large fossils and fossil fragments are in some of the upper beds 44


Bedding varies from thick to massive 0 .5 to 3 meters Sy lolites are well-developed and common Some stylolites have amplitudes up to 10 centimeters Most though not all are parallel to bedding Vugs and fractures particularly in the upper Tamaulipas are commonly filled by sparry calcite cement Depositional ripple marks on tops of beds are present in one place in the Tamaulipas Chert nodules are common throughout the section although they are absent from some beds Most are black although some creamy white chert nodules occur in one bed near the middle portion of the formation This bed is exposed south of the village of Des Montes Near the top of the Tamaulipas albng the road between Galindo and La Canoa nodules of black and white coarse-grained calcite are present in the limestone The nodules are ellipsoidal and about 10 x 7 x 7 centimeters One nodule seen has a small nucleus of black chert The nodules of calcite are probably related to the development of chert nodules in the limestone Similar occurrences have been reported by Lancelot 1973 and Waisley 1978 and probably formed by penecontemporaneous diagenesis replacement of the limestone by silica and dolomite early in the burial history They suggest that sulfate and sulfide solutions simultaneously precipitated silica and dolomite Organic material in the sediments increased the solubility of aluminum in the sea water Low concentrations of aluminum reduce the solubility of colloidal silica and promotes precipitation Rhombs of dolomite were precipitated contemporaneously and later dedolomitized to calcite Except for a few shale beds the Taraises Formation is a nearly 45


pure carbonate unit When dissolved in hydrochloric acid samples contained only 5 .2% to 15 .5% insoluble residue Figure 11 Samples 26P 79bP 72aP 56P and 75bP The components of all these residues are chert clay minerals pyrite rare quartz grains and petroliferous material Pyrite is present throughout the section and composes between 1% and 2% of the volume of most samples Many pyrite grains are coated with a red film the result of the oxidation of the iron contained in the pyrite Petroliferous residue is present in all but one of the seven Tamaulipas and Taraises samples dissolved The calcium-magnesium ratio varies from 140 :1 to 100 :1 for samples in the Taraises and lower three-fourths of the Tamaulipas Formation and is higher for rocks near the bottom and middle of the section than those near the upper contact Two samples from near the top of the unit had calcium-magnesium ratios of 8 .5 : and 4 .3 :1 reflecting a high dolomite content Samples 72aP and 56P In exposures below the road between La Curva and Los Caballos the middle of the section contains calcarenite matrix with some rounded micritic intra-clasts Similar strata have not been recognized elsewhere within the area These intra-clasts are less than one centimeter in their longest dimension Sample 72aP was taken from this unit It contained a low percentage of insoluble material 8 .4% and a low calcium-magnesium ratio 4 .3 :1 Large lithoclasts are reported in the middle section of the Tamaulipas Formation in Canon de la Peregrina by Gamper 1977 It is her opinion that this unit is "evidence of a tectonic episode in the 4 6


area ." Considering the isolated and apparently discontinuous occurrences of these breccias and the paleogeography of the developing reefs in the region it is more likely that those beds are the distant products of turbidite flows derived from the incipient Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi The lowest 50 meters of the section contain beds of predominantly black shale The thickest sequence of shale is exposed on the road between Galindo and Conrado Castillo Laminated black shale and siltstone beds with a total thickness of eight meters form a slope southeast of Galindo Fossils are abundant including bivalves and possible fish scales but there is no bioturbation This is apparently the Taraises Formation The shale continues to the north but the unit becomes an interfingered sequence of alternating black shale and nearly pure limestone only three kilometers to the north Shale sequences are less than one meter thick west of La Curva and less than one-half meter thick in Canon Los Hervores Shale partings are present in the lower half of the Tamaulipas Formation throughout the area but are rare in the upper half of the formation Rillenkarren zanjones solution pockets and other karstic features are common in some of the middle and upper beds of the Tamaulipas Formation These features are particularly prevalent near the top of the formation in dolomitic beds However there are no known cave entrances in the upper part of this formation Although much of Sistema Purificacion is within the Tamaulipas Formation the Cueva de Infier4 7


nillo entrance is the only entrance of the system s thirteen that is in the Tamaulipas Two small caves with less than 100 meters of passage each are the only known caves formed in this formation They are Cueva de las Avispas in Canon Los Hervores and Cueva Plana near Galindo No caves are known within the Taraises Formation Numerous springs rise in the Taraises Formation Springs west of Galindo west of La Curva and in Canon Los Hervores surface above shale beds Several karst springs are in the lower Tamaulipas in the lower canyons The flood level springs near Cueva de Infiernillo including the cave s entrance are karst conduit sources in the lower part of this formation The spring at Los Hervores is in either the lower Tamaulipas or the top of the Taraises Tamabra Formation The section of middle Cretaceous limestone stratigraphically below the Agua Nueva Formation in the Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina has been called the Tamaulipas Superior Tamaulipas and Cuesta del Cura Formations by various authors Figure 6 Although a breccia has been recognized in some places between the El Abra Formation and the basinal limestone to the east previous investigators have not identified this unit as the Tamabra Formation In the study area the youngest unit is a thick sequence of autochthonous mudstone massive allochthonous channelized debris flows bedded allochthonous debris flows and turbidity current deposits composed of dolomite and limestone This unit is considered a part of the 4 8


Tamabra Formation in this investigation Modifying the definition provided by Barnetche and Illing 1956 the Tamabra Formation is defined as "a dominantly bioclastic-lithoclastic limestone-dolomite sequence that underlies the Agua Nueva limestone and shale and laterally merges away from the Cretaceous platform into the basinal Tamaulipas Superior or Cuesta del Cura Formation ." The top of the Tamabra Formation has been removed by erosion throughout the area and the original thickness is indeterminable A measured section in the village of Conrado Castillo is 272 meters thick probably close to the maximum thickness within the study area Atkinson in prep .! The sequence of lithologies in the formation varies laterally within tens of meters In Conrado Castillo approximately the lowest 100 meters is a sequence of predominantly tabular and laterally discontinuous calcirudite beds Channels cut and fill structures rip-up clasts graded bedding and sole-marked surfaces Figure 12 and 13 indicate that at least some of these limestone beds are the products of turbidity currents described by Meischner 1964 as allodapic limestone Graded :_ bedding is lacking in most of the limestone breccia beds Open framework random orientation of clasts and contorted bedding in some breccia indicate deposition as massive channelized debris flows The clasts in the limestone range from one centimeter to one-anda-half meters in their longest dimension They are equant to tabular The clasts are predominantly sub-rounded but range from sub-angular to rounded Figure 14 These deposits seem to have been transported only 4 9


Figure 12 Graded bedding in the Tamabra Formation Figure 13 Channel structure in the Tamabra Formation 50


Figure 14 Breccia unit in the Tamabra Formation 5 1


a short distance Imbricated clasts soft sediment deformation and channel geometry of the calcirudite beds indicate that the source of those deposits was to the south of the area Clasts were derived from two source areas Many of the clasts contain rudists and bioherm material from the Cretaceous carbonate platform G L Atkinson 1980 personal communication Others are calcarenite and calcilutite fragments often similar to the surrounding matrix and the channel walls There is no rule for the relative solubility of the clasts and matrix in this unit In some weathered surfaces the clasts form positive features relative to the matrix but more often the clasts/are negative features Commonly no change in relief is present at the clast-matrix contact Calcarenite beds often form channel walls in the lower Tamabra breccia units and the upper beds of the Tamabra Formation are calcarenites In areas where the calcirudite beds are missing particularly in the northern parts of the study area calcarenite beds are above the Tamaulipas Formation These units have medium to massive beds with thin laminations Channel structures and crossbedding are common within the calcarenite unit Graded bedding is often topped by micritic material and clay Contorted beds of calcarenite look like the result of two viscous fluids mixing and are associated with the channelized breccia beds in the Tamabra Formation The constituents of the calcarenite beds are sub-angular to rounded but predominantly sub-rounded In some samples pressure 5 2


solution along the contacts of the grains has caused a slight molding of the grains around each other Microfossils are prevalent in many samples although fragments of megafossils compose more than 80% of some channel fillings Rip-up clasts are also in some channels The contact at the top of the Tamaulipas Formation whether with the calcarenite or calcirudite unit of the Tamabra Formation is sharp conformable but slightly uneven Channels filled with allodapic limestones cut into the underlying limestone Since the Agua Nueva Formation is not within the study area the nature of the contact at the top of the Tamabra Formation is unknown The Tamabra Formation is composed of predominantly limestone and dolomite The percentage of material insoluble in 0 .5 N hydrochloric acid varies from 6 .5 in sample 75aP to 9 .0% in sample 66P The residue is clay chert rare quartz and pyrite grains and in most samples a large amount of petroliferous material Clay is prevalent in the top of graded beds along stylolites and as Tillings along fractures Occasional stylolites often poorly developed are present in the calcirudite and calcarenite beds Black chert both bedded layers up to 12 centimeters thick and nodules ranging from one millimeter to tens of centimeters in their longest dimension is abundant in the calcarenite beds Occasional black chert nodules are also present in the calcirudite beds The silica within the chert is often mixed with abundant dolomite rhombs The calcium-magnesium ratio is low in this formation Some of the breccia beds in the lower part of the formation are nearly pure


and have a calcium-magnesium ratio of 1 .9 :1 sample 66P The highest ratio found in the Tamabra during this investigation was 9 .7 :1 in sample 75aP from the calcarenite unit Hence it is a dolomitic limestone White rhombs of calcite are prevalent in the calcirudite units as vug and fracture fillings and clast replacements Similar but less conspicuous recrystallization is also present in the calcarenite units of the Tamabra Formation and the highest beds of the Tamaulipas Formation The calcite rhombs are more resistant to solution than the surrounding material In the Historic Section of Cueva del Brinco the white calcite replacement crystals in the wall rocks form small positive solution features in the rooms formed by phreatic solution The model of contemporaneous chert and dolomite precipitation in an environment with organic decomposition products and later dedolomitization is congruent with the evidence seen in the Tamabra Formation within the study area All samples tested that contained calcite rhombs also had high petroliferous and dolomite contents Pelagic caprinids in the Tamabra Formation confirm the area was a basin or basin-margin environment during deposition G L Atkinson 1980 personal communication The Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi was steep-sided and provided high relief a few kilometers to the south and west of the study area during the middle and Late Cretaceous The bioherm probably accreted rapidly upward possibly on a pre-existing topographic high such as the horst block proposed by Belcher 1979 As evidenced by the Tamabra Formation along the edge of the carbonate 5 4


platform in much of the Sierra Madre Oriental debris flows and turbidite currents carried material from the over-steep slopes into the surrounding basins Carrillo B 1971 ; Enos 1974 The calcirudite deposits in the study area are the products of both channelized turbidite flows and massive channelized debris flows derived from the shallow-water platform Rip-up clasts and channel wall slump deposits are also incorporated into the channel deposits The angular and coherent nature of the clasts indicate that the source terrane had been at least partially cemented before the Tamabra Formation was formed Submarine cementation of the Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi has been documented elsewhere Enos 1974 and sub-aerial exposure of the platform does not seem necessary to explain the presence of the Tamabra Formation However differential cementation may have contributed to the building of a steep-sided but unstable platform Much of the material was derived from the shallow-water platform carried down submarine canyons and formed the calcirudite beds Some fine-grained material was deposited as submarine overbank and outwash plain deposits resulting in the calcarenite beds Occasionally the channel would change from receiving the main flow of material to overbank deposits as the flow was pirated upstream Sometimes the flow later returned to the original channel This channel evolsion is represented by dramatic changes in the section from calcirudite to calcarenite deposits and vice versa The calcilutite deposits throughout the section are the result of quiet basinal deposition between turbidity and debris flow events 5 5


The Tamabra Formation tends to be a slope former The breccia beds with high dolomite contents often form karst grike and kegelkarst fields with little or no soil cover The bedded chart layers in the calcarenite beds often cause subterranenan water to flow to the surface unable to pass through the insoluble and impermeable chert However the water always returns underground within one hundred meters while still flowing over the Tamabra Formation i2 t 13 s‚ P 4 8 Eleven of the 12 known entrances to the Sistema Purificacion are in the Tamabra Formation Of the 67 caves known in or near the study area all but three have their entrances in this youngest formation Most of the caves have developed along bedding planes gaining depth gradually However the deepest known pit in the area Pozo Obscuro 120 meters deep and the second deepest known cave Sotano de la Cuchilla which has a depth of 164 meters only 400 meters of traversable distance from the entrance are developed in the Tamabra Formation Landslide Deposits An unstable western wall in Canon El Infiernillo has resulted in the accumulation of slide debris at its base The clasts in this deposit are derived from the Tamaulipas and Tamabra Formations above They are sub-angular to rounded and range in size up to five meters in diameter Much of this material is partially consolidated and in some places the deposit is a well-cemented conglomerate with a sparry "travertine" matrix The chemically aggressive flood waters in the canyon dissolve and erode material along its path often carving vertical5 6


walled channels more than 20 meters deep A limestone conglomerate is also present near La Curva amongst the outcrops of the Tamaulipas Formation The clasts are derived from the Taraises and Tamaulipas Formations and are angular to sub-rounded The unit is well-cemented with a sparry "travertine" matrix Figure 15 This area forms the west wall of Canada Contrabando a canyon sub-parallel to Canon El Infiernillo It is probable that Canada Contrabando is a more mature feature developed by processes similar to those presently occurring in Canon El Infiernillo and the conglomerate at La Curva is the scattered remains of landslide debris along the canyon 5 7


Figure 15 Cemented landslide deposit near La Curva 58


CHAPTER IV STRUCTURE-OF THE AREA Introduction Since the area is located on the western flank of the Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina the overall dip of the beds is to the west Faults at an angle to bedding are rare and typically offset beds less than three meters Faults along bedding planes are common and the offsets are indeterminable Joints are abundant and important to the speleogenesis and hydrogeology of the area Most of the lateral shortening within the carbonates that occurred during the Laramide Orogeny was accommodated by folding and slippage along decollement surfaces Folds are abundant and are also important factors influencing the speleogenesis and hydrology Folds 1 Introduction Folds in the area are both spectacular and abundant Concentric folds with amplitudes of up to 250 meters are accompanied by tight chevron similar and disharmonic folds The overall hinge line trend of most of the major folds is N6W 2 Most small folds are also along this trend Axial surfaces are commonly nearly vertical with dips ranging to both the east and west However west-dipping surfaces are predominant A lineament that extends approximately from Los Caballos through 59


Canon El Infiernillo marks a dramatic change in the abundance and type of folds that occur To the east folds are rare and generally concentric with limbs of relatively low-angle dips West of the lineament folds are common often have steeply dipping limbs and have variable styles including concentric similar disharmonic and chevron 2 Sinclinal de Infiernillo The most influential fold in the area is a second-order syncline that trends about N8W from one kilometer west of Conrado Castillo to just west of Los Caballos then along the west slope of Canon El Infiernillo and into the east slope of Canon Los Hervores Plate I Unlike the other folds in the area this syncline is continuous along the entire north-south extent of the study area It also appears to be vertically continuous and is in the Tamabra and Tamaulipas Formations and most or all of the Taraises Formation There are no exposures of the structure in the La Caja Formation thus its presence or absence in that limestone unit is unknown This syncline has apparently caused the sumps in Cueva El Infiernillo by perchment of water above the underlying impermeable beds and has prevented further westward development in Sistema Purificacion see Chapter VII The syncline is named Sinclinal de Infiernillo in this report Most of the other folds in the area are associated with this larger feature The third-order folds have resulted from the increased compressive stress with elevation along the limbs and near the axial surface of the major syncline Most of the folds decrease in amplitude 60


with depth some terminate in the lower sediments Small fourth-order folds near synclinal axial surfaces have formed in several places These deformations also terminate with depth and are most common in the Tamabra Formation Sotano de la Cuchilla has excellent exposures of these localized structures 3 Other large folds Starting from the east the first large fold in the study area is an anticline that trends about N8W and terminates in the north at Cerro Vaquerillo This feature has been important to the development of Sistema Purificacion acting as a drainage divide for subterranean flow to the upper parts of the known system The fold s west limb has an amplitude of about 200 meters in the area east of Conrado Castillo The feature was not traceable north of Cerro Vaquerillo where bedding dips to the northwest To the west the next major fold is a syncline that trends about N4W through Conrado Castillo and along Cuchilla El Angel the ridge west of Arroyo Obscuro The east limb has a moderate dip averaging between 20 and 30 degrees to the west The west limb is steeply inclined and beds are vertical in some places The axial surface is steeply dipping to the west The west limb is terminated by an anticline of a similar trend that passes through Cerro Zapatero The west limb of this anticline is gentler than its east limb with the average dip between 35 and 45 degrees to the west The amplitude between these two features is about 250 meters in the 61 r


area of Conrado Castillo and about 150 meters below the La Curva-Los Caballos road terminating at depth along a decollement surface They have not been found below an elevation of about 1200 meters Figure 16 Many smaller folds are associated with these features particularly at the higher elevations The alternating beds of chert and limestone within the Tamabra Formation have resulted in the formation of chevron folds These smaller folds are particularly prevalent along the steeper limb of the folds and at higher elevations where lateral compression was probably greatest Joints are also well-developed near the axial surfaces These folds and the joints along them have had a strong influence on the speleogenesis of Sistema Purificacion see Chapter VII There are other folds in the eastern half of the area but they are minor features with little linear extent Many terminate vertically along decollement surfaces Such is the case of the folding just north of Los Caballos Its southern extent is indeterminable due to the lack of bedding in the Tamabra breccia in the Los Caballos area The two synclines west and south of Galindo have low-angle limbs and terminate to the north by conforming to the regional westward dip Despite the nearly north-south regional trend east-west trending features are also present in the study area The most important of these features is a hinge line that in the-study area starts in Puerto Purificacion and plunges west into Canon El Infiernillo To the south of this line bedding tends to dip south of west To the north of the line bedding generally dips north of west Bedding resumes a more 6 2


Figure 16 Major third-order syncline-anticline pair above the Sistema Purificacion below the La Curva-Los Caballos road Figure 17 Syncline at Paso de la Muerte two kilometers north of Puerto Bajo 63


southerly dip at Paso de la Muerte two kilometers north of Puerto Bajo Figure 17 The area east of La Canoa dips to the south terminating a plunging syncline to the north The only other part of the area with a consistent nearly east-west strike is a small region south of La Curva where the beds dip to the north Thirdand fourth-order folding has been intense along the west limb of the Sinclinal de Infiernillo as seen along the west walls of the Canones El Infiernillo and Los Hervores Figures 18 and 19 These folds have steeply dipping limbs and high-angle axial surfaces that generally dip to the lest The trends of their hinge lines are parallel or sub-parallel to the trends of the major syncline Some folds are concentric or chevron but similar and disharmonic folds are more common in the nearly isotropic limestone of the Tamaulipas Formation Figures 20 and 21 Hinge lines in the area are often so closely spaced that it is not possible to show them at the scale used in this report In addition the combination of decollement surfaces and steep relief results in abrupt terminations of many of these folds A lack of trails karst development in the Tamabra Formation cliffs in the Tamaulipas Formation heavy vegetation on the slopes and permanent flowing water from wall-to-wall in much of lower Arroyo Luna contribute to difficult access and working conditions in this area Thus no attempt is made in this report to record every fold observed The intense folding continues west of Cerro Los Puertos and into the area west of this study 6 4


Figure 18 Looking north into Canon El Infiernillo Note uniform dip along east side intense folding in west wall Figure 19 Looking northeast into Canon Los Hervores Note uniform bedding in east wall of Canon El Infiernillo in background 6 5


Figure 20 Disharmonic folds in the Tamaulipas Formation in Canada Los Coyoles Figure 21 Disharmonic folds in the Tamaulipas Formation in Canon Los Hervores 6 6


The amplitudes .of the folds in the western part of the area vary from less ban a meter to about 100 meters and the overall dip of the beds is to the east The strikes of the axial surfaces are almost always between N15W and N5E and the surface dips are generally steep to the west although some dip to the east Some of the folds can be traced down to decollement surfaces Figure 22 Others terminate in down to decollement surfaces Figure 22 Others terminate in a manner 6 7 that is also most easily explained by slippage along bedding planes 4 Geologic Factors Controlling Folding The lack of faults in this intensely folded region and the presence of disharmo f nic similar and chevron folds are evidence that the rocks responded as a plastic substance at the time of folding Since the Laramide Orogeny began towards the end of the Cretaceous the rocks were not firmly cemented Also approximately 1200 meters of rocks had been deposited over the top of the Tamabra Formation in this area Carrillo B 1961 The pressure of this overburden and the young age of the sediments caused the rocks to behave plastically and probably was responsible for the lack of faults in the limestone However the abundant joints parallel to the folding trends indicate that the stress did cause incipient axial cleavage planes that enlarged as stress was released and the overburden eroded The few small faults in the area are generally parallel to these trends The lithology involved is the primary factor determining the type of folding that occurred The Tamabra Formation has primarily steep-angle chevron folds due to its mixed lithology of bedded chert


Figure 22 Decollement surface in lower Tamaulipas limestone in Canon Los Hervores 68


and limestone The chert beds have probably acted as the more competent layer determining the form of the folds A similar situation occurs in the Taraises and lower Tamaulipas Formations Chevron folds have formed in these units as a result of limestone beds acting more competently and determining the style of folding while the shale has deformed particularly near the hinge line The upper Tamaulipas Formation with its massive beds has commonly formed similar and disharmonic folds Since the unit is nearly isotropic individual beds were passive and the type of folding was not controlled by changes in lithology Low-amplitude concentric folds also form in the Tamaulipas By his work with the La Boca Formation Belcher 1979 has demonstrated the presence of a northwest trending horst block west of Ciudad Victoria west of the study area Because of a change in transport direction of channel deposits in the overlying La Joya Formation he believes another north or northwesterly trending horst block formed prior to Late Jurassic truncating parts of the older block Based on LANDSAT imagery Belcher placed the western edge of this uplifted area about one kilometer west of Sistema Purificacion Figure 9 Recognizing the change in fold styles broad low-amplitude folds over the proposed horst block and tightly folded strata to the west Belcher attributes the difference to a change in the underlying stratigraphic sequence Thick sequences of Upper Jurassic evaporites and shale were deposited within the graben These units are thin or absent on the horst blocks Tight high-amplitude folds formed over 6 9 the incom


petent strata within the basins Where the Lower Cretaceous carbonates are in contact with the basement or only a thin incompetent section is in between transport of allochthonous beds was interrupted This relationship between the style of Cretaceous carbonate folding and the presence of Triassic and Jurassic horst and grabens is also present along the Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi near Miquihuana and the Coahuila Peninsula according to Belcher The proven absence of the Olvido and Zuloaga Formations in the east side of Canon El Infiernillo and Along the eastern boundary of the area supports their proposed elevated position during the Late Jurassic The dramatic change in intensity and style of folding in the Cretaceous limestone west of the canyon and Los Caballos -nay indicate a change in lithology at depth Figure 23 If a graben were present in the western portion of the area during the Late Jurassic and the evaporites of the Olvido Formation were deposited large-offset decollement surfaces at depth could have promoted the eastward transport of the overlying Cretaceous limestone The eastern edge of the Laramide Thrust Belt is approximately 20 kilometers west of the study area Tardy et al undated Apparently the stress that caused large thrust faults to the west was accomodated by folding and bedding plane slippage in the Cretaceous beds of the study area While the possible presence of the Olvido Formation in the western part of the area may have enhanced the transport of the overlying sediments its presence is not proven by the intense folding Most of the folds in the study area have a decreased amplitude at depth 7 0


Some anticlines flatten at decreasing elevations until the structures are non-existent The necessary adjustments were made by bedding plane slippages and plastic flow within the beds Bedding plane slippage often occurred within shale layers but many slippage surfaces are between limestone beds A calcite gouge between the beds is well-preserved in some passages in Sistema Purificacion Figure 24 The change in style and intensity of folding between the west and east walls of Canon El Infiernillo must represent some change between the areas since both areas experienced the Laramide stress Since .the Cretaceous sediments as they are exposed do not change from east to west the difference is apparently at depth If a horst block is present to the east of the area it is possible that the Olvido Formation is absent and the carbonates have moved over the La Joya and La Caja Formations The change in folding style may be caused by a facies change in the La Joya Sediments to the west deposited closer to the Jurassic basin may be finer-grained than those near the paleo-high Evidence for such a facies change is provided by the presence of conglomerates with clasts up to 15 centimeters in diameter in the upper La Joya along the eastern boundary of the area but only shale siltstone and some sandstone are exposed in Canon El Infiernillo These finer-grained sediments in the western part of the area may have promoted transport of the overlying beds A facies change however does not easily explain a change in structure as sharp as this one The presence of a horst block in the eastern part of the area 72


Figure 24 Calcite gouge between nearly vertical Tamaulipas beds in the Netherhall 73


similar to the one described by Belcher 1979 is probably the cause of change in folding intensity and style The presence of Olvido Formation only four kilometers north of the northern boundary of the area probably means that the horst block is not as extensive as Belcher suggested Atkinson 1981 personal communication Despite the absence of the Zuloaga and Olvido Formations in the study area Carrillo B 1961 reports their presence on the east side of the anticlinorium in Canones Esperanza Olmo Rosario and Guayabas The thickness of the Olvido Formation is 100 to 160 meters in these canyons each between seven to 12 kilometers in a direct line from the study area proving that the Olvido may thicken rapidly away from the r paleo-high This may allow for the presence of the Olvido under the west side of Canon El Infiernillo in sufficient quantity to have promoted the intensive folding Thus as described elsewhere in the Sierra Madre Oriental the folds in the Cretaceous carbonates are probably formed above large decollement surfaces in the underlying Jurassic sequences Below thrust faulting similar to the faults exposed along the west side of the anticlinorium may be present in the La Joya sediments Figure 25 Faults and Joints Faults are rare except for decollement surfaces between bedding planes During the extensive folding in the area much of the displacement of allochthonous units was along bedding planes Slickensides between beds are common in the area and are most frequently oriented 7 4




about N78E Figure 26 Only three faults that cut across beds were noted to have slickensides In two cases the sense of movement was nearly vertical Among the faults observed in the area that cut across beds none has a stratigraphic offset of more than three meters In no case was the true displacement determinable Most of the faults have high-angle dips of 70  to 85  ranging in east and west directions The strikes of the faults are clustered around N9W The faults are both normal and reverse separation faults with some down on the east and others down on the west The largest fault noted in the study area is within the Tamabra Formation and has created a gouge zone five to 50 centimeters wide Figure 28 The trend of the fault is N86W 84S and the maximum stratigraphic separation is 2 .95 meters Slickensides indicate that the most recent movement was strike-slip If no vertical movement has occurred along this fault the displacement is 7 .8 meters left-lateral The fault is visible in the Historic Section from near the entrance to Cueva del Brinco to the Helictite Passage The fault splits near the entrance to this passage and passes into the south wall of the Historic Section The only other two passages in the cave that are known to have developed along faults are the Carrot Tube and the 17 Hour Tube two of the Confusion Tubes in Cueva El Infiernillo The fault in the 17 Hour Tube is a high-angle reverse separation fault with the south side up approximately 2 .5 meters 7 6




Figure 28 Fault within the Tamabra Formation in the Historic Section of Cueva del Brinco 79


All other faults in the area have offsets of less than one meter commonly only a few centimeters The faults other than the three previously mentioned seem to have no effects on either the surface or sub-surface morphology in the area The thick and massive beds of the Tamabra and Tamaulipas Formations have been extensively fractured The resulting joint sets _have orientations that cluster around N8W and N85E Figure 27 nearly parallel and perpendicular to the regional trend The dips of most joints are perpendicular to the dip of the beds Joints are abundant near the axial € surfaces of the folds probably resulting from stress relaxation in the rocks following mountain building The joints developed along axial surfaces have influenced the speleogenesis Most of the passages in the Sistema Purificacion and Sotano de la Cuchilla are formed along joints Many of the long linear passages in the system including the World Beyond the Monkey Walk and the Jersey Turnpike are developed along joints that are near and"parallel to axial surfaces The highly fractured areas near the hinge lines are conducive to cave development The passage morphology within the system is also affected by the concentration and orientation of joints Phreatic ceiling domes and wider passages have formed where two or more joints intersect a passage The largest room in the cave the Netherhall is forming by an ongoing process of ceiling and wall collapse and solutional removal of the debris see Chapter VII The collapse process is being aided by steep bedding and abundant joints In addition to being weakened zones joints and 8 0


bedding planes provide voids in which gypsum develops and crystalwedging occurs White and White 1969 Joints have also influenced the surface morphology resulting in a rectilinear pattern of topography and drainage development within the Tamulipas and Tamabra Formations The cliffs that are common in the Tamaulipas Formation have developed along joints and their development is associated with solutional activity within the joints see Chapter V Surface drainages within these formations also follow the joint set trends resulting in a rectilinear pattern of dry streamways Arroyo Obscuro Puerto Vaquerillo and the entrances to Sumidero de Oyamel are formed along a prominent fracture Although no offset is apparent the lineament is conspicuous on aerial photographs and topographic maps and has affected both the surface and sub-surface morphology and hydrology 8 1


CHAPTER V GEOMORPHOLOGY The most striking feature of the terrain of the study area is the rugged topography Sheer cliffs and deep canyons are prevalent in the Tamaulipas Formation Karst features and somewhat gentler topography mark the higher elevations of the region where the Tamabra Formation outcrops The lithology of the surface formations affects .the geomorphology The La Joya Formation forms an irregular pattern of contours often recognizable on aerial photos and topographic sheets Because of the numerous springs that are near the contact between the La Joya and Taraises Formations small drainages have often eroded deep into the hillside in the La Joya Formation The orientation of joints in the rock a significant factor in the development of linear features in the overlying carbonate formations is less important to the erosion of the La Joya This factor results in a more rounded and irregular appearance of landforms In Canon El Infiernillo headward erosion has created a waterfall approximately 25 meters high at the La Caja-La Joya contact A permanent stream emerges through rubble at the base of the cliff The waterfall is the result of undermining of the less resistant underlying La Joya Formation by water surfacing at the top of the unit and the surface river during floods The more resistant La Caja limestone beds form the cliff The La Caja Formation with its sequence of calcareous shale and 82


limestone forms steep covered slopes that are frequently broken by low cliffs two to five meters high Shallow dolines are common in this limestone but no other karst features were noted The Taraises also has numerous springs and demonstrates less control of erosion by joint patterns resulting in less linear landforms than the younger carbonates The Tamaulipas Formation with thick to massive beds of relatively pure limestone is a frequent cliff-former Figure 29 Canyons incised into the Tamaulipas Formation are steep-walled and broken by waterfalls Cliffs are frequently parallel to major joint trends in the area The shale in the lower part of the unit has contributed to the presence of slope failures Groundwater moving through joints in the massive limestone dissolves material along these fractures enlarging them until the water reaches the nearly impermeable shale layers The limestone is undermined by the less erosion-resistant shale beds and lacks lateral continuity because of the enlarged joints Promoted by this removal of support landslides occur in the Tamaulipas most frequently in the lower half of the unit The prominent cliff at the head of Canon El Infiernillo has resulted from similar processes Figure 30 Surface drainage south of the cliff enters the limestone through joints in the rock These joints are enlarged from the surface down by the undersaturated water dissolving the limestone The shale beds and argillaceous limestone of the Taraises Formation the top of which is slightly below the base of the cliff weathered and weakened -quicker than the Tamaulipas This 8 3


Figure 29 Cliff in the Tamaulipas Formation south of Galindo 84


Figure 30 Looking south at the head of Canon El Infiernillo 8 5


less competent rock below the massive limestone causes collapse of the upper unit along the solutionally enlarged and weakened joints There is no fault parallel with the cliff as is indicated on the Casas Reales and Villa Hidalgo geology maps available from Detenal Although similar to steepheads or pocket valleys a recognized karst landform Canon El Infiernillo differs from these features because it lacks a permanent stream at the head of the canyon Jennings 1971 ; Sweeting 1973 Four springs flow from the Infiernillo cliff during flood conditions Three of the springs including the entrance to Cueva de Infiernillo issue from karst conduits midway up the cliff The fourth spring and the last to dry up after a flood issues from the base of the cliff at the head of the stream channel below the Cueva de Infiernillo entrance This spring has undoubtably assisted in the undermining of the cliff The water from all of the springs have assisted in removing the fallen debris by solution or as clastic load Since flood water pulses through the underground system quickly the water issuing from these springs is probably undersaturated with calcium and capable of further dissolution of limestone During heavy rainfall the local groundwater table level fluctuates radically and rapidly see Chapter VI This change in water level to the south and southeast of the cliff causes a rapid change in the hydrostatic pressure within the rocks providing additional stress along with gravity on the weakened limestone fractures An almost constant barrage of rocks 70 centimeters in diameter and smaller wns seen by 8 6


the author and heard falling from the cliff following a heavy rain in December 1979 The most active retreat of the cliff occurs during and immediately following heavy rains A recent large rock slide in the Tamaulipas Formation along the cliff west of Cueva de Infiernillo and landslide deposits in the bottom of the canyon are further indications of the ongoing retreat of the cliffs surrounding the head of Canon El Infiernillo These slides are promoted by the extensive folding and fracturing of the limestone on the west side of the canyon Rockfalls of Tamaulipas limestone in the lower canyons are common even during the dry season Four fresh small rockfalls were seen in the normally dry segments of Canones Los Hervores and El Infiernillo in April 1980 Figure 31 Since large rivers_ flowing through these channels were observed by the author on December 12 1979 these four rockfalls must have occurred in the intervening four months During a three-day visit to these canyons in April of 1980 three separate rockfalls were heard by the author Since human usage is rare and only a few grazing animals have been seen in the canyons most of these rockfalls are probably unprovoked by man or his animals Although technically "dry valleys" during most of the year Jennings 1971 the lower canyons are actively enlarging and floodwater is carrying the fallen debris further downstream The upper one-third of the Tamaulipas Formation has a dolomitic component is less of a cliff-former and karst features are more common than in the lower portion Evidence of the enlargement of vertical 8 7

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Figure 31 Fresh rockfall in Canon Los Hervores 88

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joints in the massive limestone by dissolution from the surface downward is provided by the presence of bogaz or zanjones in the upper Tamaulipas Formation and Tamabra Formation Cvijic 1893 ; Monroe 1964 The zanjones in the area are parallel trenches about one to three-and-a-half meters wide up to two meters deep and several tens of meters long with nearly vertical walls and a soil-covered floor Some of the best developed zanjones cross the road between the villages of La Curva and Los Caballos approximately one-and-a-half kilometers directly south of the abandoned sawmill Aserradero Los Desmontes Figure 32 Rillenkarren and solution pockets are prevalent in the more dolor mitic massive beds near the top of the Tamaulipas Formation Despite the presence of surface karst features no cave entrances are known in the upper Tamaulipas Formation and only the Sistema Purificacion has known passages developed in the unit The Tamabra Formation is a slope-former with an abundance of karst features Almost all of the known caves in the area and all but one of the known entrances to Sistema Purificaci on are in this youngest limestone Dolines both normal solutional and collapse dolines are common in the Tamabra Pits up to 120 meters deep are formed in this unit The dolomite content of the beds affects the degree and type of karst evolution Grike fields and karst pinnacles are commonly developed in the dolomite beds Figure 33 and 34 A thin soil cover and only moderate rainfall probably inhibits the development of solutional features The carbon dioxide concentration of the soil in three samples 89

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Figure 32 Zanjon on road between La Curva and Los Caballos 9 0

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Figure 33 Grike field on top of Cerro Zapatero Figure 34 Grike field on the west side of Cerro Vaquerillo The entrance to Sumidero de Oyamel is in the valley at the base of the grike field 9 1

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was only 0 .035% and 0 .050% J W Hess 1980 personal communication High regions in tropical mountains provide optimum conditions for karst development as a result of low water temperatures and dense vegetation The Sistema Purification area located on the Latitude 24  is in the tropic-temperate transition zone Two similar karst regions in the transition belts are reported in the Barkly Tableland in Queensland Australia and in Transvaal South Africa Both of these areas are in dolomitic terranes and are characterized by shallow doline karst Sweeting 1973 similar to some of the upper dolomitic terrane in the study area Present drainage is from the south and west However a small travertine deposit on the road one kilometer south of Puerto Vaquerillo contains well-rounded stream pebbles of reddish sandstone apparently derived from the core of the anticlinorium to the east After the thick carbonate section had been stripped along the axis the Jurassic sediments were exposed above 2040 meters the elevation of the travertine deposit Drainage carrying clastic material from the east or northeast passed through the Puerto Vaquerillo and flowed towards Conrado Castillo Remnants of this ancestral drainage pattern are preserved in the travertine The geomorphology of the area is the result of the combined actions of fluvial and karst processes "True karst" landforms produced dominantly by solutional processes is formed in portions of the Tamabra lower Tamaulipas and Taraises Formations "Fluviokarst" formed by both fluvial and solutional processes is most common on the surface 9 2

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Although surface streams are rare and mostly intermittent their influence past and present on the geomorphology is important 9 3

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Introduction CHAPTER VI HYDROLOGY OF THE AREA Most of the study area is a well-developed karst terrain in which there is little surface drainage despite moderate rainfall No perma nent streams enter the area above ground The only large stream to pass into the area on the surface during heavy flooding is in Arroyo Luna Most of the rainwater sinks underground before accumulating into streams Even during heavy rains most of the water rapidly disappears into the ground at cave entrances dolines or along slightly enlarged joints in the limestone Impermeable chert beds in the Tamabra Formation and shale layers in the Taraises La Caja and La Joya Formations force the water to the surface generally as small one to five liters per second seeps throughout the area Permanent springs of about 30 liters per second base flow rise in both Canones Los Hervores and El Infiernillo but sink into the gravel of the streambed before the canyons join the Rio Purificacion Other large springs flow in these canyons during and for several months after heavy rains They result from the flooding of a karst reservoir system in the lower Tamaulipas Formation the present-day phreatic portion of Sistema Purificacion Controlling factors for the hydrologic system that has developed are the structure stratigraphy and lithology of the area Specifically they are : 9 4

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1 The folding and the joints that have developed near the axial surfaces 2 Bedding planes and their orientations 3 The initial permeability of the various limestone units 4 The solubility of the various limestone units 5 The low permeability of chert beds in the Tamabra Formation and the shale layers in the Taraises La Caja and La Joya Formations Sinks Input Areas Sinks are common in the limestone terranes and water flows underground at these features Some sinks are fractures in the rocks only a few centimeters across while others are dolines tens of meters in diameter and some more than 10 meters deep A few sinks are also the entrances to large caves Sumidero de Oyamel or deep pits Pozo Obscuro Many of the larger dolines have vegetated floors and in the Canones El Infiernillo and Los Hervores water sinks in a gravel floor within the bedrock terrane The Tamabra Formation at the higher elevations of the area has sinks that capture surface water before any large streams form even during heavy rains The water enters fissures and caves and in many places joins the streams in Sistema Purificacion There are no large streams entering the cave as the karst in the region is sufficiently developed to pirate rainfall quickly underground as nearly diffuse input 95

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The Tamaulipas Formation does not have any cave entrances that take water and surface water generally enters the subterranean system as diffuse flow through small fissures However at several places in the Cafiones El Infiernillo and Los Hervores large streams sink in the gravel streambed within the Tamaulipas Figure 35 Either the conduit system is not sufficiently developed to handle the flow or input zones are sufficiently blocked that the surface streams continue beyond these points after heavy rains The shale beds in the Taraises and La Caja Formations inhibit the development of karst conduits Surface water goes underground in a diffuse manner often reappearing on the surface above shale beds Dolines with vegetation and soil bottoms are common in the La Caja around Galindo Water flows quickly into the subsurface and does not pool at the bottom of these depressions Surface streams are rare throughout the Cretaceous limestone terrane in the surrounding mountains While the area of this report includes the surface overlying all of the known passage of Sistema Purificacion the total system undoubtably extends beyond these boundaries particularly to the south The plateaus of Mesas Juarez have well-developed karst surfaces that pirate rainfall underground Figure 36 The probable destination of that water is Sistema Purificacioon Springs Discharge Areas Two factors force the subterranean water in the area to the sur

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97 Figure 35 Place in Arroyo Luna where water sinks into gravel

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Figure 36 . Karst field on Mesas Juarez south of Conrado Castillo 9 8

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face The first and more common reason is that the water following a path along fractures and bedding planes enlarged by dissolution encounters a chert or shale bed with low permeability and is forced to the surface The second factor involves springs that only flow after heavy rains and result from an overload on the phreatic portion of Sistema Purificacion Springs within the Tamabra Formation are small and result from groundwater moving through solutionally enlarged fractures until it reaches an insoluble and impermeable chert bed where the water is perched and sometimes overflows to the surface While these springs are important water supplies to the people living in Conrado Castillo and Los Caballos they occasionally go dry in the spring after the relatively dry winter months Nearly permanent surface water sources within the Tamabra Formation are the one well in the village of Conrado Castillo a spring one kilometer north of Conrado Castillo called Agua de los Allarines Agua de los Corrales a spring about 300 meters southeast of the village of Los Caballos and a small cluster of nameless springs about one kilometer north of Los Caballos Plate I After a heavy rain others flow throughout the area Karst floodwater springs are restricted to the lower part of the Tamaulipas Formation Four springs are known to flow after heavy rains They are located within 400 meters of each other near the head of Canon El Infiernillo Water issues from the entrance to Cueva de Infiernillo as a result of a rise in the Sistema s phreatic system during and after heavy rain It has the highest elevation of the four 9 9

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springs and is the first to quit flowing as the local water table level recedes The other three flow for periods of up to several months the lowest in elevation flowing for the longest period Figures 37 38 and 39 Their geographic locations and behavior indicate a connection with the phreatic system in the cave Other springs in the Tamaulipas Formation are in Canon Los Hervores The largest Los Hervores is a vauclusian or boiling spring Water wells up through a tube in either the lowest Tamaulipas or highest Taraises limestones under hydrostatic pressure The forced flow causes a "boiling" effect for which the spring is named Figure 40 Such springs are commonly believed to arise from large underground reservoirs Sweeting 1973 This spring the largest permanent water source in the study area is located along the hinge line of one of the many tight anticlines west of Canon El Infiernillo The source of part of the flow is probably a streambed gravel and sand sink about 1500 meters upstream in Arroyo Luna Figure 34 However Los Hervores has slightly more flow volume than the upper stream Since the spring is located westof Sinclinal de Infiernillo it is doubtful that the water in Sistema Purification finds its way to this spring Arroyo Luna drains 228 square kilometers of surface area upstream from Los Hervores While permanent streams do not flow through most of the channel there are several permanent stream segments that rise and sink upstream from Los Hervores This water and phreatic flow through the limestone near the stream channel are probably the sources of flow in Los Hervores 1 0 0

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Figure 37 Easternmost karst floodwater spring in Canon El Infiernillo 101

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Figure 38 Middle karst floodwater spring in Canon El Infiernillo 1 0 2

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Figure 39 Entrance of Cueva de Irk ernillo with karst floodwater spring flowing in lower t ht of photo Note the person with a red helmet half-way between the entrance and the canyon bottom 1 0 3

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Figure 40 The vauclusian spring Los Hervores Water emerges from the dark hole to the left of center 1 0 4

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All of the springs seen by the author in Arroyo Luna and Canon Los Hervores are near the Tamaulipas-Taraises contact The water is apparently forced to the surface by the shale beds in the Taraises Formation The spring water flows along the surface channel to the point where folding in the limestone causes the shale beds in the Taraises Formation to go underground Where the water is again flowing over the nearly homogeneous Tamaulipas Formation the stream sinks in the stream alluvium and small fractures in the limestone The only other springs near the Tamaulipas-Taraises contact are near La Canoa They are several small seeps that result from ground water flowing down dip above shale partings within the limestone until the water intersects the cliff Unlike other springs in the area the water is supersaturated with calcium and bicarbonate ions when it reaches the surface and large travertine deposits have formed below these springs There are many small springs and seeps in the limestone and interbedded shale of the Taraises and La Caja Formations These features are the result of flow along bedding planes and fractures where groundwater is perched above shale layers Many of these springs do not flow in the relatively dry spring months Nearly permanent springs of this type occur about 200 meters west of La Curva 300 meters southwest of Puerto Purificacion and 300 meters west of Galindo The shale beds within the La Joya Formation cause small springs throughout its exposures Groundwater passes through the sandstone and conglomerate beds in diffuse flow patterns but is perched above the 105

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layers Flow continues downdip above these beds until it reaches the surface The largest spring in the La Joya Formation within the study area is about ten meters below the contact of the La Caja and the La Joya Formations in the upstream part of Canon El Infiernillo The water continues to flow along the surface channel as it crosses the outcrops of the La Joya and La Caja Formations downstream The stream sinks downstream in alluvium above bedrock of either the Taraises or Tamaulipas Formations During and after heavy rains the flow from springs in Canones Los Hervores and El Infiernillo is too large to be handled by the sinks described above At these times some of the water sinks and the red mainder continues to flow across the limestone in the surface channels But even at these times the streams usually sink again outside the study area Whether surface flow is ever continuous to the Nacimiento del Rio Purificacion at times of intense rainfall such as hurricanes is not known The waters from Sistema Purificacion Canon El Infiernillo and Canon Los Hervores probably ultimately surface as part of the flow from the Nacimiento del Rio Purificacion about 12 kilometers north of the study area This large spring is the source of the southernmost large tributary making up the Rio Purificacion Figure 41 The quantity of water and the different chemical components indicate that the Nacimiento receives water that flowed through different terranes as well Figure 42 1 0 6

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Figure 41 The Nacimiento del Rio Purificacion Water emerges from fractures in the limestone behind the swimmer 107

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Figure 42b

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Hydrology of the Sistema Purificacion The hydrology of Sistema Purificacion is complex and still incompletely understood Further exploration and study will help to unravel the nature of the system It can be divided into three components imput streams middle cave streams and the phreatic system and lower cave The input streams occur in the upper cave commonly within the Tamabra Formation generally flow from east to west and tend to flow downdip along the intersections of bedding planes and fractures in the limestone These streams are small and have flows of only a couple liters per second or less in the dry spring months The Valkyrie River First Stream and Rio Verde are permanent input streams Many other small streams flow in a similar pattern during and for a few days after heavy rains The input streams flow westward commonly along bedding planes until the water reaches the trough in bedding caused by the third-order syncline at the Canal and the Nose Dives The water that has penetrated to the Tamabra-Tamaulipas contact is pooled in this trough as two near-sumps Plate II Several stream segments make up the middle cave streams These streams flow along a trend between N5W and N10W following fractures near the axial surfaces of the anticline and syncline that crop out at the surface near Conrado Castillo Plate I The joints parallel to the axial hinges probably the result of stress relaxation within the limestone following the folding event have provided zones in the limestone of high permeability enhancing water flow along these paths In 110

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addition the fractured characteristic of the rock along these folds has increased the wetted surface area and enhanced solution and the development of conduits The water primarily flows parallel to the folds along the strike of the beds losing elevation along joints Dragon River The World Beyond Nile River and Isopod River are middle cave streams Dragon River is formed in the lower part of the Tamabra Formation Compression of the limestone near the syncline s axial plane has resulted in numerous smaller complementary folds exposed by the cave passage The lowest known part of Dragon River is lower than the upper part of the nearby World Beyond stream thus the River is not the source of that stream Whether Dragon River water joins the World Beyond stream further south or where the water may reappear within the system is u nknown .a t this time The stream in the World Beyond flows along strike near the top of the Tamaulipas Formation A negative fluorescein dye test from the Valkyrie River to several places in the World Beyond and Angel s Staircase failed to demonstrate that the Valkyrie River is the source of the water Thus the origin of the stream is unknown Water from the World Beyond flows slightly west and to the north down the Angel s Staircase losing elevation through joints The terminal sump into which this water flows is lower than Lake Victoria the source of the Nile River It is not known where or if the World Beyond water is again seen in the known cave The Nile River flows through nearly flat-bedded Tamaulipas limestone near the decollement structure under the third-order folds Plate 111

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III The beds are only gently folded but the stream flows parallel to the axial surface along complementary fractures Flow in the Nile River in the spring a relatively dry time has been estimated between eight and 30 liters per second Isopod River is approximately the same size as the Nile to its south and flows through the Tamaulipas Formation in a structurally similar position Although a hydrologic connection has not been proven it is likely the two streams are the same water and much of the missing stream segment flows through the breakdown on the floor of the Netherhall The water is last seen in a sump and its destination is undetermined The lowest part of the exposed hydrologic system is a group of sumps in Cueva de Infiernillo Figure 43 Four sumps are known and have water at or near the same elevation at any given time The water levels of these pools appear to fluctuate constantly Sprouse 1980 personal communication The sumps are the manifestation of a perched water table that results from the underlying impermeable shale in the Taraises Formation and the trough formed by the Sinclinal de Infier nillo about 200 meters west of the sumps Flooding Events During and after hurricanes and other heavy rains much of the cave floods One flood resulting from a storm of 19 centimeters of rain in a 50 hour period in Conrado Castillo was observed in December 1979 by the author During this event input and middle cave streams

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.gure 43 The Main Sump at low springtime level March 180 Photo by Roger L Jacobson 113

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increased in volume and new streams flowed The Canal and the Nose Dives filled to the ceiling and closed access to the middle cave The middle streams were not observed but filled basins indicated the streams rose tens of meters into what must have been raging rivers Waterlines in the normally dry Netherhall record floods in the past where the Nile/Isopod River below has risen more than 60 meters as it flows through the breakdown-filled floor Most of the input and middle streams subsided to near-normal flow levels within three days after the rain stopped During flood events many normally dry passages fill with water and access to most of the cave is closed a hazard to exploration of the system ; The sumps in the Cueva de Infiernillo rise tens of meters during heavy rains A rise of 64 meters above the surveyed level of the sumps causes the system to overflow out the entrance of Cueva de Infiernillo The storm in December 1979 caused the sumps to rise and flow out the entrance Following a relatively dry summer and fall the sumps are believed to have been at approximately 1020 meters msl and rose 64 meters within three-and-a-half days after the start of the rains Figure 44 The rise stopped at this level as the system found a balance between the water entering the sumps from the higher streams and the water leaving the system through the springs in Canon El Infiernillo including the large cave entrance Figure 39 The first spring to quit flowing after the rain stopped was the highest the cave entrance of Cueva de Infiernillo The sump level in the cave rapidly retreated to the lower parts of the cave The sump level dropped as 114

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1125110510851075 i Main Sump 0 t 50 t 100 t 150 t 200 t 250 t 3 00 TIME hours after start of rain DECLINE CURVE FOR DECEMBER 1979 FLOOD Fiqure44

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fast as one centimeter per minute in a passage 12 meters wide and 10 meters high Figure 45 The consequent opening of previously flooded rooms to the cave s barometric system caused great movement of air and resulted in an occasional roaring wind that created waves up to five millimeters in amplitude on the surface of the water By the time the sump level reached Camp I elevation 984 meters above msl the easternmost spring seen in Figure 37 quit flowing The middle spring was the next to dry up The spring below the cave entrance has been observed to flow for more than two months after a flooding event Treacy 1979 The decline curve in Figure 44 is based on only five measured levels of the Main and Left-hand Sumps and on high-water marks Water in the Echo Chamber Sump observed but not surveyed was approximately the same elevation as the others at all times The disruption in the curve at 170 hours may have been due to a delayed pulse of water being added from the upper system a common event in karst aquifers but was more likely caused by a change in the total horizontal area of the passages being drained If a given amount of water is draining from the system at levels of small tubes with steep slopes the water will drop in elevation quicker than when dropping in large rooms It is possible that a large room was being drained at about 170 hours and temporarily slowed the rate of decline without a change in the input/ output ratio for the system 1 1 6

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Figure 45 4-Way Junction in Cueva de Infiernillo The sumps filled the passage to the right and left of this photo during a flood in December 1979 117

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Hydrochemistry The chemical analyses presented in Figure 41 are the results from a single sampling from each site during March and April 1980 except Los Hervores The waters were collected in new clean plastic bottles that were rinsed with the sample waters and drained three times before collecting The bottles were filled and capped while held at least 15 centimeters below the water surface A second sample bottle was filled and nitric acid added later to lower the pH and prevent precipitation of calcite The temperatures of the waters were measured by a field thermometer graduated in 1  C intervals The pH s were determined by Dr Roger L Jacobson or Dr John W Hess using a digital read-out pH meter accurate to within 0 .05 units Conductivities indicating the total dissolved solids contents were measured by a small field conductivity meter All these measurements except the pH for the Laguna Verde World Beyond and Isopod River waters were done at the sites Dr Jacobson and Dr Hess made the bicarbonate measurements either at the sites or within a half-hour after sampling by potentiometric titration with a possible error of less than 10% Cations were determined later by the author on an atomic absorption unit and sulfate and chloride concentrations were measured using a Hach water quality kit in the lab Several samples contained less sulfate and chloride than the minimum detection limits of one milligram per liter and 50 milligrams per liter respectively The degrees of saturation of calcite in the waters were calculated by the method outlined by Langelier 1934 and modified by Stiff and 118

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Davis 1952 The pH temperature and calcium and bicarbonate concentrations were used in the calculations A stability index S .I of zero indicates equalibrium of calcite in the water A positive value represents supersaturation and a negative value indicates the water is undersaturated The stability index is logarithmic and an S .I of one means an ion product ten times greater than the equalibrium constant The general equation for the solubility of calcium carbonate is : CaCO 3 CO 2 H2O t Ca HCO 3 2 This equation is the sum of several equalibria equations Sweeting 1973 The dissolved carbon dioxide is in equalibrium with the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the air in contact with the solution Carbon dioxide in solution occurs as dissolved carbon dioxide CO 2 carbonic acid H 2 C0 3 bicarbonate ion HCO 3 and carbonate ion C03 Between pH 7 and pH 9 bicarbonate is the predominant species and the others may be neglected All of the water collected in the study area had a low total dissolved solids content and was slightly alkaline Figure 42 All but Sample PW1 were collected in the spring of 1980 during low water flow and a condition of falling water levels in the sumps Iron sodium potassium and chloride concentrations were generally too low to be accurately measured by the methods used Sulfate concentrations were also low even in the sump and lower springs and indicate that the waters do not reach the level of the evaporites of the Olvido Formation if they exist under Arroyo Luna and the Cerro Los Puertos ridge The only undersaturated waters PW2 and PW5 were the two highest 119

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samples in elevation Both sources result from water being forced to the surface or near it by beds of chert inthe Tamabra Formation Agua de los Allarines is a flowing spring and the Conrado Castillo well is only about three meters deep where water pools in a small solution pocket The lower pH and negative stability index of these two samples probably indicate relatively quick transport of the water underground and close proximity to the source areas All other samples were supersaturated the result of longer periods in passing through the underground limestone terrane A strong breeze that exchanges air between the upper and lower entrances caused a rapid drying of moisture on the cave walls and floor after the December 1979 flood This breeze probably also causes evaporation of the water within the system and along with the release of carbon dioxide by agitation of the flowing water results in the supersaturation of the cave waters Supersaturation is maintained in the sumps because of the shielding effect of the dipolar molecules of water that surround the calcium ions and inhibit precipitation Conclusions The study area is divided into several hydrologic systems all of which ultimately drain into the Rio Purificacion to the northeast Figure 1 Rain falling near the eastern boundary flows along the surface to the east over the La Joya Formation The shale beds in this unit make it nearly impermeable causing many springs Similarly the shale beds in the La Caja and Taraises Formations commonly force 120

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groundwater to the surface The La Caja and Taraises are poor cave formers and probably cause the restrictions in the phreatic passages of Sistema Purificacion that cause the system to rise and overflow out its entrance during heavy rains . However at base flow the system s water apparently emerges at the bottom of the La Caja forced to the surface by the La Joya Formation The thick-bedded Tamaulipas Formation is a good conduit former along bedding planes and joints Water flows down the dip along the intersection of joints and bedding planes on the flanks of folds Near the axial surface of the anticlines and synclines the passage development is nearly along strike typically along the intersection of a bedding plane and a joint parallel to the folding or vertically developed along fractures Groundwater flow in the Tamabra is enhanced by its susceptibility to karst development but inhibited by beds of chert Water entering the ground above the chert beds either continues flowing downward through fractures in the chert near axial surfaces as in Sotano de la Cuchilla or is forced to the surface after perching on the chert The surface flow returns to the subterranean system after flowing past the chert bed Water entering the Tamabra Formation below the bedded chert gathers in karst conduits and joins the karst hydrologic systems in the underlying Tamaulipas Formation The water flowing out of the study area is known to flow in two directions Along the eastern boundary the water leaving the area travels primarily on the surface to the east into Canones El Rosario 121

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and El Olmo and Canada Guayabas All these streams continue northward to the Rio Purificacion The water from Sistema Purificacion and Canon El Infiernillo travels a subterranean route after leaving the study area except during floods The flow from Los Hervores leaves the area on the surface but goes underground to the north Although not confirmed this water probably re-emerges from the karst springs at the Nacimiento del Rio Purificacion along with waters from other parts of the mountain range A sulfate concentration of 100 milligrams per liter in PW7 may result from dissolution of evaporite beds in the Olvido Formation in part of the spring s source area The sumps in the lowest portions of Sistema Purificacion are exposures of a localized perched water table resulting from underlying impermeable shale beds the regional dip to the west and Sinclinal de Infiernillo to the west Groundwater is prevented from migrating to the east or west by the structure and is slowed in its downward progress by the poor conduit-forming nature of the limestone and interbedded shale in the Taraises and La Caja Formations The water passes through probably constricted passages in these units and emerges in Canon El Infiernillo approximately 800 meters north of the Echo Chamber Sump The spring in Canon El Infiernillo is probably only a part of the flow leaving Sistema Purificacion and represents overflow from the water table The cave water passes through the Taraises and La Caja Formations and in part enters the clastic sediments of the La Joya Formation Perched by the shale beds in this unit some of the water overflows at the spring in Canon El Infiernillo The rest of the water 122

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probably flows through the conglomerate and sandstone beds of the upper La Joya or along the decollement surface northward along the trough formed by the Sinclinal de Infiernillo If the Olvido Formation is present west of Canon El Infiernillo the water should gain sulfate ions Such water probably emerges at the Nacimiento del Rio Purificacion since none of the springs in the study area have measurable sulfate ion concentrations Sinclinal de Infiernillo and accompanying folding west of Sistema Purificacion prevents the water from joining the hydrologic system in Arroyo Luna The water at Los Hervores is probably from sources west of the Sistema s drainage area Conversely the intense folding along the west limb prevents water from entering the Purificaci on system from the western part of the area The sources of most of the water in Sistema Purificacion are unknown and further study particularly south of Conrado Castillo is needed to identify them Most of the groundwater in the study area south of Canon El Infiernillo and between Sinclinal de Infiernillo and the anticline through Cerro Vaquerillo probably enters the cave s system The source area probably continues south along a structural corridor approximately two to three kilometers wide 123

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CHAPTER VII GEOLOGIC FACTORS CONTROLLING THE SPELEOGENESIS OF THE SISTEMA PURIFICACION Introduction The principal geologic factors that have controlled the development of the Sistema Purificacion are the stratigraphy and structure of the area The cave-forming affinity of the limestone units varies Some parts of the heterogeneous Tamabra Formation are more susceptible to conduit-development than others The nearly homogeneous thickbedded Tamaulipas Formation resists passage development except along fractures The inhibited conduit-developing characteristics of the underlying Taraises and La Caja Formations and the impermeable shale beds in the La Joya Formation change the manner of groundwater flow in the lower parts of the system Complementing the effects of the stratigraphy is the local structure The most important elements are the folds and fractures formed parallel to and near the axial hinge surfaces Another joint set trends approximately N85E perpendicular to the strike of the folded beds The joints were probably formed by relaxation after the folding during the Laramide Orogeny Since the Late Cretaceous 1200 to 1500 meters of overburden has been removed from above the cave Carrillo B 1961 The release of the lithostatic stress has probably had a significant effect on enlarging joints during isostatic rebound Below two large third-order folds is a decollement surface The limestone along this feature is also fractured parallel to the trend of 124

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the folds and thus has been a prolific conduit-former in the lower part of the middle cave However the few non-bedding plane faults exposed in the cave have had only minor effects on passage development In three places passages have formed along the trend of a fault No faults have been observed to inhibit passage development Most only slightly enlarge the diameter of the passage or have no effect at all where they cross passage The Upper Cave The upper parts of the known system is in the Tamabra Formation Passage development was influenced by both lateral and stratigraphic i changes in the heterogeneous unit but tends to follow the intersections of bedding planes and prominent joints Although the passage development is often along bedding planes the cave dropped to lower strata as it developed westward until reaching the Tamabra-Tamaulipas contact The transition from the upper cave to the middle cave is along the contact at Valkyrie River The Canal and the Nose Dives Figure 46 The common joint sets in the cave N5W and N85E are respectively parallel and perpendicular to the regional dip to the west Many of the passages in the upper part of the cave follow joints along bedding planes dropping to lower beds along local fractured zones As a result the cave is generally deeper to the west The main passage of the entrance area in Cueva del Brinco is formed along a small fault that has a stratigraphic offset of approximately three meters Figure 26 Although the gouge forms resistant solutional pendants the fault 125

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zone apparently enhanced conduit development In the westernmost parts of the upper cave are two near-sumps The Canal and the Nose Dives These permanent pools of water are formed in the trough of a third-order syncline The water is perched on the less *permeable Tamaulipas limestone Fourth-order folds associated with this syncline have also influenced cave development in the Tamabra Tin Can Alley is perched along the trough of such a fold Chert beds up to 12 centimeters thick in the middle and upper beds of the formation act as hydrologic barriers Chevron folds in Sotario de la Cuchilla a probable hydrological part of the system that has not been connected by exploration have fractured the chert and allow infiltration of I water and cave development The Historic Section and Valhalla were formed under phreatic conditions when the groundwater base level was higher and the core of the anticlinorium was not exposed As erosion continued and the water table level dropped streams flowed through the upper cave and deposited abundant flowstone Small fragments of red siltstone cemented in travertine in Cueva del Brinco appear to be derived from the La Joya and thus represent drainage into the cave from the east when the La Joya was exposed at a higher elevation than the present-day elevation of 1900 meters Presently the upper cave has at least three permanent small streams flowing through it Neither the source nor the destination of First Stream Rio Verde and Valkyrie River are known They probably result from collections of diffuse flow but so far the water has not 127

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been traced beyond the upper cave Other streams flow through this part of the cave during heavy rains but most were observed to dry-up within 18 hours after a storm in December 1979 The Middle Cave All of the cave west of The Canal and the Nose Dives and southeast of the Confusion Tubes is considered the middle part of the cave in this report These passages mostly long nearly straight tunnels of varying diameter are formed along joints that are physically and probably genetically related to the syncline and anticline seen on the surface at Conrado Castillo Plate I These are third-order folds caused by greater compression in the upper beds on the east limb of Sinclinal de Infiernillo that decrease in amplitude and disappear at depth Plate III Due to the asymmetrical dips of limbs of the syncline and anticline the hinges of both folds are offset from the trough and crest The syncline s axis is about 100 meters west of the trough € The anticline s axis is about the same distance east of the crest Extension fractures near the synclinal hinge line probably enlarged since the Laramide by the reduction in lithostatic stress provided paths of greater initial permeability and enhanced the conduit-forming potential of the rock Dragon River and the World Beyond are formed along the axis of the syncline near the Tamabra-Tamaulipas contact At the southern end of the World Beyond the known cave abandons its low-gradient north-south trend near the top of the Tamaulipas 128

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limestone and rapidly drops in elevation and stratigraphic level along fractures in the west limb of the syncline The water is locally perched on less permeable beds and flows along strike until openings provide paths downward Although not examined in this study the Fossil Fissure is probably formed along a joint near the axial surface of the anticline to the west Except during floods the passage into the Fossil Fissure has been abandoned The water now follows a similar path the Angel s Staircase to the north of Lisa s Lampfall The water flows into a sump at 1275 meters msl Much of the lower part of the middle section is formed near or along the decollement surface below the two folds The Communion Hall the Nile River the Wind Tunnels and Isopod River are along or near this structure The crest of the anticline is passed under at Foggy Mountain Breakdown south of the Netherhall The crest of the anticline is exposed in the South Trunk This passage is formed along a joint near the decollement surface Collapse of the ceiling in places has exposed the overlying fold Evidence of bedding plane slippage such as slickensides and calcite gouge between beds is abundant in this passage as it is also in the Monkey Walk the Wind Tunnels Foggy Mountain Breakdown and the Netherhall The crest of an anticline is exposed twice in the Monkey Walk This passage also formed near the decollement and ceiling collapse has revealed the overlying structure Figure 47 These folds may be the same anticline discussed above or they may be another similar fold to the west seen in the cliff in Figure 16 129

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Figure 47 The anticline exposed by ceiling breakdown in the Monkey Walk 130

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The entrance to the Jersey Turnpike crosses from the west-dipping to the east-dipping limb of the anticline seen south of the Dark Room Like the Fossil Fissure the Jersey Turnpike is probably developed along an extension fracture near the hinge line surface of the anticline The passage higher in elevation than the Breakdown Maze is above the decollement surface and in Tamaulipas limestone beds that dip 35  to the east The Netherhall Mexico is well-known in the speleological literature for some of the largest and deepest open-air natural pits in the World Russell and Raines 1967 ; Courbon 1979 ; Anonymous 1980 Several pits in the country are more than 300 meters deep The deepest pit in the World is El Sotano del Rancho del Barro 455 meters deep in the state of Quere-taro The Netherhall a unique feature in Sistema Purificacion is an interesting example of a potential grand open-air pit in its incipient stage The Netherhall about 330 meters long and 130 meters across at its widest part is the largest known room in the system The floor of the room consists entirely of breakdown The top of the breakdown is at an elevation of 1500 meters msl but the hill descends to 1345 meters at the south and 1300 meters to the north before a bedrock floor appears The walls and ceiling of the Netherhall have been formed by collapse into an underlying void not by phreatic dissolution like most of the system 1 3 1

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The Netherhall is in the steeply west-dipping limb of the anticline that is exposed in Conrado Castillo along the crest of that anticline The room is dry Its southeast wall is although a stream apparently flows through the breakdown under much of the Netherhall and appears as Isopod River at the north end of the pile of rocks The probable source of this water is the Nile River While there is no direct evidence in the Netherhall of a stream 150 meters below waterlines on the walls of the southern part of the room indicate that during some floods water is dammed by the breakdown and rises into the lower portions of the room The stream below has been an important contributor to the speleogenesis of the Netherhall This room has formed as a result of stoping upward from an underlying void The initial chamber below the present Netherhall might not have been large but its ceiling was sufficiently weak to allow collapse Since the Nile-Isopod River flows along the decollement surface the ceiling failures exposed the folded more fractured rocks of the overlying anticline and stoping continued into these rocks If an active stream had not been present the collapsed rocks would have filled the void and stoping would have discontinued However the stream passes through the breakdown and removes material by solution and possibly as clastic load Thus dissolution and stoping continue Collapse of Tamaulipas limestone has been promoted by crystal wedging Pyrite nodules and crystals disseminated throughout the overlying Tamabra and Tamaulipas limestones weather and provide sulfate132

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bearing solutions that travel through fractures joints and bedding planes in the rock The iron remains as insoluble iron oxide and hydroxide The weathering of the sulfide sources may be by both inorganic and organic mechanisms Pohl and White 1965 The sulfate-bearing solution reacts with the calcite wall rock of the cave as follows : 2H 2 0 H SO4 CaCO CaS .0 4 .2H 2 0 HCO3 since the solution in contact with limestone will have a pH near 7 As the sulfate-bearing solution nears the atmosphere of the cave CO 2 gas is released changing the balanced sulfate ion-bicarbonate ion ratio The decrease in the bicarbonate ion would cause gypsum to be i deposited As the above reaction took place a build-up of CO 2 pres sure would stop the process until the solution neared a void where CO 2 pressure could be released Thus the limestone along the cave walls and ceiling is attacked and replaced by gypsum The replacement of the calcite by the gypsum is on a mole basis Since gypsum has a higher molar volume than calcite there is a physical expansion force-in addition to the chemical attack The growing gypsum crystals force rocks from the bedrock resulting in the collapse of the walls and ceiling White and White 1969 Some of the breakdown fragments on the floor of the Netherhall have former nodules of pyrite that have been altered to limonite Surrounding the nodules and on the surface of the limestone is a layer of gypsum crystals Figure 48 White and White 1969 state that this process is only active 1 3 3

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Figure 48 Nodule of pyrite in the Tamaulipas limestone altered to limonite and gypsum on a piece of breakdown in the Netherhall 134

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when the passage is high above the floodwater zone and well--protected by-an overlying caprock Most of the Netherhall is above any flood and the waterlines in the southern portion of the room are below the gypsum Unlike other areas where mineral-activated breakdown in caves has been described the Netherhall has no obvious caprock The process seems to be the fortuitous result of impervious bedded chert in the Tamabra Formation overlying beds in the Tamaulipas Formation that resist conduit development and the room s proximity to the hinge line surface of the anticline The structure tends to divert groundwater along bedding planes and-away from the hinge Moderate rainfall and a high evaporation-transpiration rate in the area above the Netherhall r may also encourage this process The present ceiling of the Netherhall is approximately 200 meters above the Nile/Isopod River If the process continues the Netherhall could eventually reach the surface creating an open-air pit Once exposed to the surface drainage into the hole would promote dissolution of the breakdown floor and deepen the pit However since the Netherhall is under Cerro Zapatero nearly 700 meters of stoping or surface erosion is required to form such a pit The Lower Cave The lower cave includes the Confusion Tubes and all passages north or west of them All of the known passages are in the lower third of the Tamaulipas Formation although the less soluble more impervious Taraises La Caja and La Joya Formations below influence the develop135

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ment of this lower part of the cave The beds dip to the west at angles between 15  and 32  Sinclinal de Infiernillo west of the known cave forms a trough in the less soluble units and causes the sumps in the lowest known parts of the cave see Chapter VI Most of the known passage in the lower part of the cave is an irregular network-type maze appropriately named the Confusion Tubes Like most of the rest of the system the passages are formed along the intersections of joints or in two places small faults and bedding planes The tubes have solution domes and scallops in their ceilings proving an origin under phreatic conditions Flowstone deposits which have been partially re dissolved record episodes of vadose flow after the tubes formed These passages were probably formed by floodwater recharge as described by Palmer 1975 and some still carry water during floods Figure 49 The entrance passage of Cueva de Infiernillo is unique in the system It is a linear north-south trending conduit with numerous feeders now dry except during floods but the passage is not closely associated with any folds The passage presently serves as an overflow route when the phreatic reservoir cannot pass water through the underlying Taraises and La Caja Formations to the system s normal discharge point as fast as floodwaters enter Before paths were created through the underlying units and the canyon in Canon El Infiernillo cut as deep as present the local water table was probably drained by a spring at the present cave entrance The entrance passage may represent an old water table level The west-trending passages west of the 136

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Figure 49 The Confusion Tubes Photo by Roger L Jacobson 137

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Main Passage are younger features presently being enlarged by aggressive floodwaters rising from the sumps I 1 3 8

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GLOSSARY anticlinorio span anticlinorium arroyo span bed of a brook or stream aserradero span sawmill breakdown speleo any material that has fallen from the ceiling of wall of a cave caliza span limestone canada span gulch gully ravine canon span canyon cenote speleo water-filled sinkhole in low relief terrain cerro span hill ciudad span city cueva span cave de span of el span the singular masculine flowstone speleo accumulations of calcium carbonate that have been deposited on the walls and floor of a cave by a descending film of water hervores span boiling la span the singular feminine los span the plural masculine manantial span spring of water nacimiento span source of a spring span Spanish term speleo Speleological term 1 3 9

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plataforma span platform phreatic water speleo underground water in karst limestone that lies within the zone of permanently saturated rock scallops speleo symmetrical fluted rock surface sinclinal span syncline sistema span system sotano span pit speleogenesis speleo the process of origin and development of caves sump speleo place where a cave passage becomes submerged vadose water speleo underground water in karst limestone that circulates freely under gravity above the level of saturation zona span zone area region 1 4 0

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REFERENCES Anonymous 1980 The deepest and longest caves : Caving International no 9 p 30-31 Anonymous 1964 Mexico s caves and caverns : Pemex Travel Club Mexico D .F 32 p Atkinson G .L in prep The stratigraphy and biostratigraphy of the middle Cretaceous near-Conrado Castillo Tamaulipas Mexico approximate title Honors thesis : University of Texas Austin Atwater T 1970 Implications of plate tectonics for the Cenozoic tectonic evolution of western North America : Geological Society of America Bulletin v 81 p 3513-3536 Baker C .L 1971 Geologic reconnaisance in the eastern Cordillera of Mexico : Geological Society of America Special Paper 131 83 p Baker C .L 1928 PanUco Oil Field Mexico : Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists v 12 no 4 p .-395-441 Barnetche A and Illing L .V 1956 The Tamabra Limestone of the Poza Rica oilfield Veracruz Mexico : 20th International Geological Congress Mexico D .F p 38 Belcher R .C 1979 Depositional environments paleomagnetism and tectonic significance of Huizachal Red Beds Lower Mesozoic Northeastern Mexico Ph .D dissertation : University of Texas at Austin 276 p Benassini A and Garcia Q A 1957 Recursos hidraulicos de la Republica Mexicana : Ingenieria Hidraulica en Mexico v 11 no 3 p 30-38 Bonet M F 1963 Biostratigraphic notes on the Cretaceous of eastern Mexico in Corpus Christi Geological Society Geology of Peregrina Canyon and Sierra de El Abra Mexico : Guidebook for the Annual Field Trip p 36-48 Bonet M F 1956 Zonificacion microfaunistica de las calizas Cretacios de este de Mexico : Boletin Asociacion Mexicanos Geologos Petroleos v 8 nos 7-8 p 389-488 Bonet M F 1953a Cuevas de la Sierra Madre Oriental en la region de Xilitla : Boletin del Instituto de Geologia no 57 p 1-96 Bonet M F 1953$ Datas sobre las cavernas y otras fenomenos 1 4 1

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erosivos de las calizas de la_ Sierra de El Abra : Memorias of de 20th Congreso Scientififica Mexico p 238-273 Bonet M F 1952 La facies Urgoniana del Cretacico Medio de la region de Tampico : Asociacion Mexicana Geologicos Petroleos Boletin no 4 p 153-262 Bretz J H 1955 Cavern-making in a part of the Mexican Plateau : Journal of Geology v 63 no 4 p 364-375 Burkhardt C 1930 Etude synthetigue sur le mesozoigue mexicain : Societe aleontologique Suisse Memoir v 49 50 p 155-157 Carrasco V B 1977 Albian sedimentation of submarine autochthonous and allochthonous carbonates east edge of the Valles-San Luis Potosi Platform Mexico in Cook & Enos eds Deep-water carbonate environments ; Society of Special Publications no 25 p 263-272 Carrasco V B 1970 La Formacion El Abra Formacion El Doctor en La Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi : Revista Instituto Mexicano Petr6leos p 97-99 Carrillo B J 1971 La Plataforma Valles-San Luis Potosi : Boletin de la Asociacion Mexicana Geologos Petroleros v 23 no 1-6 113 p Carrillo B J 1961 Geologia del anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina al Noroeste de Cd Victoria Tamaulipas : Boletin de la Asociacion Mexicana Geologos Petroleros v XIII nos 1 y 2 98 p Carrillo B J 1959 Notas sobre el Paleozoico de Ciudad Victoria Tamaulipas : Boletin de__la_Asociacion Mexicana Geologos Petroleros v II p 673-681 Conklin J 1974 Structural geology of the Huizachal-Peregrina Anticlinorium in Pan American Geological Society Geology of Huizachal-Peregrina Anticlinorftim p 21-31 Corpstein P 1974 Historical geology of Huizachal-Peregrina Anticlinorium and northeastern Mexico in Pan American Geological Society Geology of Huizachal-Peregrina Anticlinorium p 1-9 Corpus Christi Geological Society 1963 Geology of Peregrina Canyon and Sierra de El Abra Mexico : Corpus Christi Geological Society Annual Field Trip 107 p Courbon P 1979 Atlas des grands gouffres du monde : Editions Jeanne Lafitte Marseille France p 18-19 ; 34-35 142

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Cvijic J 1893 Das Korstphanomen : Geographie Abhand .vonA .Penck v 5 no 3 p 215-319 de Cserna Z Graf J .L and Ortega F 1977 Aloctona del Paleozoico inferior en la region de Ciudad Victoria Estado de Tamaulipas : Universidad National Autonomica Mexico ; Institiito de Geologia Revista v 1 p 33-43 de Cserna Z 1976 Mexico-Geotectonics and mineral deposits in Woodward L and Northrup S eds : Tectonics and mineral resources of southwestern North America New Mexico Geological Society Special Publication no 6 p 18-25 de Cserna Z 1956 Tectonica de la Sierra Madre Oriental de Mexico entre Torre6n y Monterrey : XX Congreso Geologico Internacional 97 del Rio F and Wilson A 1970 Caracteristicas hidrologicas de Mexico : Universidad Nacional Autonomica de Mexico Instituto de Geofisica Memoria 1968-1969 p 15-27 Denison R .E Burke ;W .H Hetherington E .A and Otto J .B 1971 Basement rock framework of parts of Texas southern New Mexico and northern Mexico in West Texas Geological Society The geologic framework of the Chihuahua tectonic belt p 3-14 Diaz T 1956 Congreso Geologico Internacional Vigesima Sesion Excursion A-14 Ruta : Ciudad Victoria Tamaulipas Canon de Peregrina p 63-68 Enos P 1977 Tamabra Limestone of the Poza Rica trend Cretaceous Mexico in Cook H .E and Enos P eds Deep-water carbonate environments : Based on a Symposium sponsored by the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special Publication no 25 p 273-314 Enos P 1974 Reefs platforms and basins of middle Cretaceous in northeast Mexico : American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin v 58 no 5 p 800-809 Fish J .E 1977 Karst hydrogeology and geomorphology of the Sierra de El Abra and the Valles-San Luis Potosi Region Mexico Ph .D dissertation : McMaster University Toronto Ontario 469 p Fries C Jr Schmitter E Damon P .E Livingston D .E and Erickson R 1962 Edad de las rocas metamorphicas en los Canones de la Peregrina y de Caballeros parte centro-occidental de Tamaulipas : Universidad National Aut6nomica Mexico Instituto de Geologia Boletin v 64 p 55-59 143 p

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Gamper M .A 1977 Estratigrafia y microfacies Cretacicas del Anticlinorio Huizachal-Peregrina Sierra Madre Oriental : Boletin de la Sociedad Geol6gica Mexicana Tomo XXXVIII no 2 p 1-17 Garrison J .R Ramirez R C and Long L .E 1980 Rb-Sr isotopic study of the ages of provenance of Precambrian granulite and Paleozoic greenschist near Ciudad Victoria Mexico in Pilger R .H Jr ed The origin of the Gulf of Mexico and the early opening of the central North Atlantic Ocean : Proceedings of a symposium Baton Rouge Louisiana March 1980 p 37-49 Gose W .A Scott G .R and Swartz D .K 1980 The aggregation of Mesoamerica : Paleomagnetic evidence in Pilger R .H Jr ed The origin of the Gulf of Mexico and the early opening of the central North Atlantic Ocean : Proceedings of a symposium Baton Rouge Louisiana March 1980 p 51-54 Harmon R .S 1971 Preliminary results on the ground-water chemistry of the Sierra de El Abra Region North Central Mexico : Bulletin of the National Speleological Society v 33 no 2 p 73-86 Heim A 1940 The Front Ranges of the Sierra Madre Oriental Mexico from Ciudad Victoria to Tamazunchale : Eclogae geologae Helvetiae v 33 no 2 p 321-322 Humphrey W .E and Diaz G T .E 1953 Excursion a 1 Canon de Peregrina Ciudad Victoria Tamaulipas : Program Primera Convencion Asociacion Mexicana de Geologos Petroleros p 57-59 Imlay R .W 1944 Cretaceous formations of Central America and Mexico : American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin v 28 p 1077-1195 Imlay R .W 1943 Jurassic Formations of the Gulf Region : American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin v 27 no 11 p 1407-1533 Imlay R .W Cepeda E Alvarez M and Diaz T 1948 Stratigrdphic relations of certain Jurassic Formations in Eastern Mexico : Bulletin American Association of Petroleum Geologists v 32 p 1750-1761 Jennings J .N 1971 Karst The M .I .T Press Cambridge Massachusetts 252 p Ladd J .W 1976 Relative motion of South America with respect to North America and Caribbean tectonics : Geological Society of America Bulletin v 87 p 969-976 144

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Lancelot Y 1973 Chert and silica-diagenesis in sediments from the central Pacific in Winterer E .L et al Initial reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project v 17 : Washington D .C United States Government Printing Office 930 p Langelier W .F 1934 Journal of the American Water Works Association v 28 500 p Leopold A .S 1950 Vegetation zones of Mexico : Ecology v 31 no 4 p 507-518 Lopez R R 1969 Marine Paleozoic rocks of Mexico : Bulletin American Association of Petroleum Geologists v 53 no 12 p 2399-2417 Meischner K .D 1964 Allodapische Kalke Turbidite in Riff-nahen Sedimentations Becken in Bouma A .H and Brouwer A eds Turbidites Amsterdam Elservier p 156-191 Mitchell R .W Russell W .H and Elliot W .R 1977 Mexican eyeless characin fishes Genus Astyanax : Environment Distribution and Evolution : The Museum Texas Technological University Special Publications no 12 89 p Mixon R .B 1963 Geology of the Huizachal redbeds Sierra Madre Oriental Mexico Ph .D dissertation : Louisiana State University Baton Rouge Mixon R .B 1958 The Jurassic Formations of the Ciudad Victoria Region Tamaulipas Mexico MS thesis : Louisiana State University Baton Rouge Mixon R .B Murray G .E and Diaz T 1959 Age and correlation of Huizachal Group Mesozoic State of Tamaulipas Mexico : American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin v 43 p 757-771 Monroe W .H 1964 The zanjon a solution feature of karst topography in Puerto Pico : United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 501B p 126-129 Moore G .W and Castillo L .D 1974 Tectonic evolution of the southern Gulf of Mexico : Geological Society of America Bulletin v 85 p 607-618 Muir J .M 1936 Geology of the Tampico Region Mexico : Tulsa American Association of Petroleum Geologists 280 p iIurray G .E 1961 Geology of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Province of North America : New York Harper Brothers p 314-315 145

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Murray G .E and Krutak P .R 1963 Regional geology of northeastern Mexico in Corpus Christi Geological Society Geology of Peregrina Canyon and Sierra de El Abra Mexico Annual Field Trip May 23-24-25-26 1963 p 1-10 Nason F .L 1909 Some phenomena of .the folding of rock strata : Economic Geology v IV no 5 p 421-437 Palmer A .N 1975 The origin of maze caves : National Speleological Society Bulletin v 37 no 3 p 56-76 Pan American Geological Society 1974 Geology of Huizachal-Peregrina Anticlinorium : Pan American University Geological Society Edinburg Texas Field conference guidebook Southwestern Association of Student Geological Societies no 19 Fall 1974 p 1-134 Pate D 1980 The exploration of Sumidero de Oyamel : .Association for Mexican Cave Studies Activities Newsletter no 11 p 54-60 Pate D 1979 Sistema Purificacion--1979 Spring Project Association for Mexican Cave Studies Activities Newsletter no 10 p 82-101 Pessagno E .A Jr 1969 Upper Cretaceous stratigraphy of the western Gulf Coast Area of Mexico Texas and Arkansas : Geological Society of America memoir III 130 p Pettijohn F .J 1975 Sedimentary Rocks 3rd Edition : New York Harper & Row p 338-340 Pilger R .H 1978 A closed Gulf of Mexico pre-Atlantic Ocean plate reconstruction and the early rift history of the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic : Gulf Coast Association Geological Society v 28 p 385-393 Pohl E .R and White W .B 1965 Sulfate minerals : their origin in the Central Kentucky Karst : American Mineralogist v 50 p 1461-1465 Ramirez R C 1978 Reinterpretacion tectonica del Esquisto Granjeno de Ciudad Victoria Tamaulipas : Universidad National Aut6nomica Mexico Instituto de Geologia Revista no 2 p 31-36 Russell W and Raines T 1967 Caves of the Inter-American Highway : Austin Texas Bulletin 1 Association for Mexican Cave Studies 126 p Salvador A 1979 Late Triassic-Jurassic paleogeography and origin of Gulf of Mexico : American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin v 63 p 520 1 4 6

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Schmitton M .B ƒ 1926 The Jurassic and older formations of the Huizachal Valley : Geologia PEMEX Inedito p 243-247 Silver L .T and Anderson T .H 1974 Possible left-lateral Early to Middle Mesozoic disruption of the southwestern North American craton margin : Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs v 6 p 955-956 Sprouse P .S 1980 Long caves of Mexico : Association for Mexican Cave Studies Activities Newsletter no 11 p 8 Sprouse P .S 1977a Cueva del Brinco : : .Asso&iation f6r :I-I?-S ican^Cave Studies Activities Newsletter no 5 p 19 Sprouse P .S 1977b Trip Reports--Cueva del 7 Br„nco -Tamaulipas : Association for Mexican Cave Studies Activities Newsletter no 6 p 4-5 Sprouse P .S Ubico J and Cavanaugh M 1977 Purificacion Area : Association for Mexican Cave Studies Activities Newsletter no 7 p 18-27 Stephens J .L 1842 Incidents of travel in Yucatan volumes I and II : Norman University of Oklahoma Press 349 and 347 p Stiff H .A and Davis L .E 1952 A method for predicting the tendency of oil field waters to deposit calcium carbonate : Petroleum Transactions American Institite of Mining Engineers v 195 p 213-216 Stretta J .P 1961 Los problemas geohidrologicos que plantean las zonas aridas de la Republica Mexicana : Boletin de la Sociedad Geologica Mexicana Tomo XXIV no 2 p 29-38 Sweeting M .M 1973 Karst Landforms : Columbia University Press New York p 362 Tardy M Ramirez R C and Patino A M undated El frente de la Napa de Parras conjunto cadena alta antiplano central en el area de Aramberri N .L .--Sierra Madre Oriental Mexico unpublished manuscript Treacy T 1980 Purificaci6n area--project report : Association for Mexican Cave Studies Activities Newsletter no 11 p 24-28 Treacy T 1979 Proyecto Espeleologico Purificacion : Association for Mexican Cave Studies Activities Newsletter no 9 p 6-31 1 4 7

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Waisley S .L 1978 Petrography and depositional environment of the Cuesta del Cura Formation Upper Albian-Lower Cenomanian Northeastern Mexico M .A thesis : University of Texas at Austin 135 p Walsh M 1972 Mexican Caving 1966-1971 : San Marcos Texas Southwest Texas Grotto 146 p White E .L and White W .B 1969 Processes of cavern breakdown : Bulletin of the National Speleological Society v 31 p 83-96 Williams G .D and Stelck C R 1975 Speculations on the Cretaceous Palaeogeography of North America in Caldwell W .G .E ed The Cretaceous system in the Western Interior of North America ; The proceedings of an international symposium organized by the Geological Association of Canada and held at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon May 23-26 1973 p 1-20 1 4 8


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