Genesis and Characteristics of Debris Flow Ocurred in 2013 in the Atenquique Ravine, Located on the Eastern Slope of the Colima Volcanic Complex, Mexico.

Friday, 19 December 2014
Carlos Suarez-Plascencia1, Simjahel Flores-Pena1, Francisco J Nunez-Cornu2, Laura Catalina Arreola-Ochoa3 and Bianca Valeria Suarez-Gonzalez4, (1)University of Guadalajara, Geografia y Ordenacion Territorial, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, (2)University of Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, (3)University of Guadalajara, Departamento de Historia, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, (4)University of Guadalajara, Departamento de Biologia, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Hurricane Manuel affected the Pacific coast of Mexico on September 15 and 16, 2013 causing heavy rainfall of about 240 mm in a 24 hour period in the area of the Volcanic Complex (VC). Heavy rainfall led to the beginning of a significant flow of mud and rocks draining from the Atenquique Creek, located on the eastern slope of the VC in a west east direction. The result of this flow was the heavy damage sustained by the local paper plant located next to the town of Atenquique in the distal part of the basin where the stream is gathered by the Tuxpan River. Damages totaling over 15 million dollars affected a large part in their recycled fibers factory, resulting in an 18-month full stoppage of the factory. This in turn caused a heavy setback of the economy located within a large region of the southern state of Jalisco.

Once again on November 25, debris flow occurred only at a lower volume than the September rains, without causing any damage. Both flows contained a viscous and solid liquid flow that left deposits of silt-sandy clasts and other abundant materials of reverse gradation. The first flow reached a thickness of 4.5 m in the Tuxpan riverbed over a length of about 15 km, while the November flow left behind 1.3 m of fine materials and few clasts.

The Atenquique ravine historically has had debris flow caused by heavy rainfall from hurricanes. On October 1955 debris flow claimed many deaths and heavy damage to the town and local paper mill. These flows are generated in the summer and they are associated to several factors such as weather, steep slopes, unstable volcanic strata, these elements add an important environmental history in the area, as is the use of continuous deforestation. The current land use has resulted in a positive change from forest to intensive agriculture; but having constant wildfires on the high slopes of the VC and the combination of many other factors such as changes on the soil of the slopes and movement of geological material “scarps and talweg” are highly vulnerable to fluid overloads causing removal and soil movement.

Ongoing Civil Protection Unit helicopter flights from the state government of Jalisco help us observe the activity of the Colima volcano. We have monitored the presence of abundant unconsolidated material in the slopes of the basin, this creates a continuous hazard of debris flow similar to those of 1955 and 2013.