Huatulco Life was inspired by people with a passion for Huatulco and the Mexican lifestyle. It is a place to find out more information about the region and enjoy the beauty of the Oaxacan coastline through the photo gallery. From time to time, other interesting tidbits about Mexico make their way into the pages of this blog. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Volcanoes in Mexico

To me, what makes a country interesting is the geographical and geological diversity within it's borders.

As many of you know, Mexico isn't just about the beaches, although we certainly love those.  We like the fact that on any given day, you could hop on the airplane  or catch a bus and experience any myriad of things in this country.

I shot this photo about 2 years ago while flying from Mexico City to Huatulco (see other photo in the gallery), and while I knew that there were were volcanoes in Mexico, I didn't fully connect the dots with the location and the sheer size of them.

Located only 70 km to the southeast of Mexico City, Popocatepetl volcano is still highly active.  It sits at a dizzying elevation of 5,426 m (17,802 ft) and is the second highest mountain in Mexico.

To put the elevation into perspective, Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is at an elevation of 1,463 m (4,800 ft)...the city of Denver, Colorado has an elevation of 1,609 m (5,279 ft)...while Mexico City sits at an elevation of 2,240 m (7,349 ft).

The name Popocatepetl comes from the native language Nahuatl and the words popoca, "it smokes" and tepetl, "mountain" are derived from here.

Popocatepetl is connected to another volcanic cone called Iztaccihuatul to the north and is separated by a high mountain pass know as the Paso de Cortés.  It is located on the eastern end of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.  Paleomagnetic studies have placed the volcano to be around 730,000 years old.

Pico de Orizaba - Photo: Wikipedia
The grand summit of them all is Pico de Orizaba at 5,636 m (18,491 ft) located on the border of the states of Puebla and Veracruz.  It's name means citlal "star", and tepētl  "mountain".  It is the tallest mountain in Mexico and the third tallest in North America after Mount McKinley in Alaska, and Mount Logan located in the southwestern Yukon of Canada.   However, it is the tallest volcano in North America.   It is currently a dormant volcano but not extinct with the last eruption taking place in the 19th century.

Pico de Orizaba is one of only three peaks in Mexico that supports glaciers and not surprisingly contains the largest glacier along with nine other glaciers.

So, the next time you think of Mexico, think of the amazing geography and geology contained within this country.  It will really open your eyes!

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