A 4000-year paleoenvironmental reconstruction and extreme event record from Laguna Nuxco, Guerrero, Mexico

TitleA 4000-year paleoenvironmental reconstruction and extreme event record from Laguna Nuxco, Guerrero, Mexico
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBianchette, TA, Liu, K-biu, McCloskey, TA
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Date PublishedJan-05-2022

Reconstructing paleoenvironments on Mexico's Pacific coast is crucial to determine past climate conditions and natural hazard periodicities, vital for predicting future activities. Two sediment cores extracted from Laguna Nuxco, a coastal lagoon in Guerrero, were analyzed to provide a 4000-year paleoenvironmental record. Sediments dominated by shelly clay with low water and organic content, high carbonate content, low Ti/Ca ratio and the presence of Anomalocardia subrugosa suggest that a sheltered bay existed from ~4000–~1300 cal yr BP. During this stage, intermittent beach ridge gaps facilitated the deposition of storm-induced shell deposits, likely from tropical cyclones. Frequent thick shell hash deposition toward the top of the lithologic unit indicates heightened storminess likely from an increase in ENSO activity. An intense tropical cyclone, or perhaps multiple storms during an active period deposited a thick shell hash layer at ~1500 cal yr BP, which helped strengthen the beach ridge system and lead to the modern lagoon phase (~1300 cal yr BP to present), as suggested by the presence of Mytella sp. A more isolated lagoon with significant terrestrial sediment input was reflected by the predominance of lagoonal clay with decreased shell and carbonate contents, increased water and organic contents, and increased Ti/Ca ratio. A quiet period with lower tropical cyclone activity occurred from 1300 to 800 cal yr BP and from 300 cal yr BP to the present, as inferred from no or relatively few shell hash deposits, respectively. A period of hyperactivity occurred from 800 to 300 cal yr BP, as evidenced by seven shell hash layers. During the modern lagoon phase, shell hash deposition was not caused by marine inundation processes, but rather ‘blowout’ events driven by intense precipitation during heightened ENSO activity. Findings shed additional light on Late Holocene environmental changes in a dynamic coastal zone related to regional controlling factors such as tropical cyclone activity, ENSO, and beach ridge development.