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Review: The Yucatán Peninsula karst aquifer, Mexico

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The Yucatan Peninsula karst aquifer is one of the most extensive and spectacular karst aquifer systems on the planet. This transboundary aquifer system extends over an area of approximately 165,000 km(2) in M,xico, Guatemala and Belize. The Triassic to Holocene Yucatan limestone platform is located in the vicinity of the North American/Caribbean plate boundary and has been reshaped by a series of tectonic events over its long geologic history. At the end of the Cretaceous period, the Yucatan Peninsula was hit by a large asteroid, which formed the Chicxulub impact crater. The Yucatan Peninsula karst aquifer hosts large amounts of groundwater resources which maintain highly diverse groundwater-dependent ecosystems. Large parts of the aquifer are affected by seawater intrusion. Anthropogenic pollution of the aquifer has been increasing over the past few decades, owing to relentless economic development and population growth on the Peninsula. This review summarizes the state of knowledge on the Yucatan Peninsula karst aquifer and outlines the main challenges for hydrologic research and practical groundwater-resources management on the Peninsula.
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... The Yucatan Peninsula has an extensive underground aquifer formed by the infiltration of rainwater through the porous and fractured limestone rock [23]. The network of underground flooded caves of the Yucatan Peninsula was mainly formed by the karst properties of the geological platform and is also believed to have been shaped by the Chicxulub meteorite impact of 65 million years ago [24]. This network of flooded caves is a complex system made up of cavities and interconnected hydrological conduits embedded in the karst aquifer [24,25]. ...
... The network of underground flooded caves of the Yucatan Peninsula was mainly formed by the karst properties of the geological platform and is also believed to have been shaped by the Chicxulub meteorite impact of 65 million years ago [24]. This network of flooded caves is a complex system made up of cavities and interconnected hydrological conduits embedded in the karst aquifer [24,25]. Groundwater movement through the cave systems is considered to be like that of "underground rivers" [26]. ...
... The porosity that gives rise to the aquifer also makes it susceptible to contamination, as pollutants infiltrate the ground surface, reaching the groundwater [64]. Depending upon groundwater velocity, and the connectivity of the below ground conduits, contaminants may be dispersed throughout the network of underground caves ( Figure 6) [24], eventually reaching the sea [20]. ...
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... (Bauer-Gottwein et al. 2011). The saline concentrations favor dissolution mechanisms that enhance the formation of large structures(Vizcayno et al. 1980), which in turn modify the spatial distribution of the thermohaline structure of the water inside the dolines in addition to seasonal effects from hydrometeorological events.Despite existing studies for geomorphologically characterizing the karstic depressions in the Yucatan Peninsula (e.g. ...
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... Rocks at the surface correspond to northward sequences from the Upper Cretaceous (Paleogene period) to Holocene (Quaternary period) epochs (Butterlin, 1958;Bonet and Butterlin, 1962;López-Ramos, 1975). The Yucatán Peninsula is classified as a well-developed karst given the existence of systems of solutional conduits of considerable diameter in the subsurface, extending in the range of kilometres (Bauer-Gottwein et al., 2011). The state of Yu- catán (hereinafter Yucatán) has four hydrogeological regions: Coastal Area, Inner Cenote Ring, Central Plain, and Valleys and Hills. ...
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... Yucatan peninsula is in the southwest of Mexico. Its terrain is composed principally by limestones, dolomites and evaporate and for its geological conditions the water storage and the groundwater flow occur in the karstic zone (Bauer-Gottwein, et al. 2011). Yucatan has 3 primordial karst zones, the hill region, the central and the coast, all of them with different types of cavities from voids with 50cm of diameter to huge caves of 50m of diameter and some of them are flooded (Finch 1968). ...
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