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ON THE GEOCHRONOLOGICAL METHOD VERSUS FLOW SIMULATION SOFTWARE APPLICATION FOR LAHAR RISK MAPPING: A CASE STUDY OF POPOCATÉPETL VOLCANO, MEXICO

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT.

Lahars are hazardous events that can cause serious damage to people who live close to volcanic areas; several were registered at different times in the last century, such as at Mt St Helens (USA) in 1980, Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) in 1985 and Mt Pinatubo (Philippines) in 1990. Risk maps are currently used by decision-makers to help them plan to mitigate the hazard-risk of lahars. Risk maps are acquired based on a series of tenets that take into account the distribution and chronology of past lahar deposits, and basically two approaches have been used: (1) The use of Flow Simulation Software (FSS), which simulates flows along channels in a Digital Elevation Model and (2) The Geochronological Method (GM), in which the mapping is based on the evaluation of lahar magnitude and frequency. This study addresses the production of a lahar risk map using the two approaches (FSS and GM) for a study area located at Popocatépetl volcano – Central Mexico. Santiago Xalitzintla, a town located on the northern flank of Popocatépetl volcano, where volcanic activity in recent centuries has triggered numerous lahars that have endangered local inhabitants, has been used for the case study. Results from FSS did not provide satisfactory findings because they were not consistent with lahar sediment observations made during fieldwork. By contrast, the GM produced results consistent with these observations, and therefore we use them to assess the hazard and produce the risk map for the study area.

Keywords: Lahar risk map; Popocatépetl volcano; flow simulation software; geochronological method

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0459.2010.00397.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK 2: Computational Geodynamics Laboratory, Centro de Geociencias, UNAM, Mexico 3: Department of Physical Geography, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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