Laguna Catemaco

Laguna Catemaco


Laguna Catemaco

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Laguna Catemaco is a freshwater lake located at the center of the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas in south central Veracruz, in east central Mexico. In English the word lagoon generally describes a body of water exposed to the sea. In Mexican Spanish laguna seems to be used to refer to lagoons plus lakes in general. Common usage in Mexico is Laguna de Catemaco, though scientific articles prefer to use the less ambiguous name Lake Catemaco or Lago Catemaco in Spanish.


Laguna Catemaco was formed millennia ago, when lava flow from Volcano San Martin Tuxtla blocked its current northern end, and stands now at 340 m (1,115 ft) above sea level. It is shallow, averaging 7.6 m (25 ft), with a maximum depth of 22 meters located in the channel between Isla Agaltepec and the city of Catemaco. The circulation pattern is clockwise. The laguna drains via the Rio Grande de Catemaco and its water level is controlled by several dams which replaced historic waterfalls. The change in water level is more than can be explained by evaporation and outflow. Apparently the laguna sits upon fissures permitting water to percolate down.

The lake is polymictic (water turns over more than twice a year), well oxygenated, and contains excessive nutrients (eutrophic) because of fertilizer runoff from the neighboring farms and nurseries. Because of the excessive nutrients, Laguna Catemaco is one of the more productive lakes in Mexico, up to 1,800 tons annually. Large netting is prohibited to assure the...
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