Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana

Volumen 73, núm. 1, A011020, 2021


Aspects of the Hydrogeology of southern Campeche and Quintana Roo, Mexico


Aspectos de la hidrogeología del sur de Campeche y Quintana Roo, México


Eugene C. Perry1, Rosa M. Leal-Bautista3,*, Guadalupe Velázquez-Olimán2, Joan A. Sánchez-Sánchez4, Nikklas Wagner5


Northern Illinois University, Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Emeritus, DeKalb, Illinois 60115, United States.

Centro de Innovación e Investigación para el Desarrollo Sustentable, Javier Rojo Gómez, Mza. 9, Lote 1, Local F, Puerto Morelos, 77580, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, A.C., Unidad de Ciencias del Agua, Calle 8, No. 39, Mza. 29, SM 64, Cancún, 77524, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Departamento de Ciencias de la Sustentabilidad, Grupo de Biotecnología Ambiental, Unidad Chetumal, Av. Centenario km 5.5, 77014, Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Chemtech Services, Inc., 20648 Gaskin Dr., Lockport, IL 60446, United States.

* Corresponding author: (R. Leal-Bautista) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


How to cite this article:

Perry, E.C., Leal-Bautista, R. M., Velázquez-Olimán, G., Sánchez-Sánchez, J.A., Wagner, N., 2021, Aspects of the Hydrogeology of southern Campeche and Quintana Roo, Mexico: Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana, 73 (1), A011020.



This paper explores strong indirect evidence for existence of a previously unrecognized deep groundwater aquifer in southern Quintana Roo, adjacent parts of Campeche, and (probably) northern Belize. The region contains rocks of Cretaceous-to-Holocene age, including: 1) an up-thrust block of the late Cretaceous carbonate known in Belize as the Barton Creek Formation, which is the oldest formation exposed in the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula, 2) the Cretaceous/Paleogene Albion Formation consisting of weakly consolidated Chicxulub impact air-fall deposits, 3) the Paleocene-Eocene Icaiche Formation, containing a massive 25-35 m thick gypsum member that crops out over an estimated area of more than 10,000 km2 in the elevated interior region of the northern lowlands, and 4) younger rocks of relatively low permeability that flank the region on the east. Hydrogeology is dominated by groundwater and surface flow in and adjacent to the Rio Hondo Fault Zone (RHFZ) and by recharge in the elevated interior region. Groundwater in the elevated region has a high sulfate concentration and is approximately saturated with gypsum dissolved from the Icaiche Formation. High-sulfate groundwater and river water with a slightly lower gypsum saturation index than in the elevated region also occurs in the RHFZ, but no water of comparably high sulfate content is present elsewhere in the study area. This suggests that the elevated region is a recharge zone for high-sulfate groundwater carried eastward beneath a 50 km gap by a deep, previously unrecognized aquifer and then discharged into the RHFZ. Based on chemistry of chloride, sulfate and other ions it is proposed here that a deep aquifer comprising the strongly weathered upper surface of the Barton Creek Formation plus the overlying weakly consolidated Albion Formation connects the elevated recharge area with the RHFZ discharge area. If this composite permeable zone does extend westward beneath the elevated recharge zone, it is probably an excellent aquifer.

Keywords: Hydrogeology, Icaiche Formation, Sulfates, Deep aquifer, Yucatan Peninsula.