The orography of Mexico is mainly mountainous, which means that it has high peaks and deep valleys. The most important valley is the one on which Mexico City was established.
The relief of Mexico presents three main fundamental units: the antiplain, the Neovolcanic Axis and the Yucatan peninsula.
The plateau is located in the north of the country as a geological extension of the central plains of the United States. It has two large plateaus: one to the north and the other in the center.
It is surrounded by two mountain ranges in a north-south direction: the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental. The Sierra Madre Occidental, 3,000 meters above sea level, runs parallel to the coast of the Gulf of California. The Sierra Madre Oriental passes 4 thousand meters above sea level at its highest point, which is the Peña Nevada.
For its part, the Neovolcanic Axis crosses the territory from east to west, between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. At its southernmost point it is bordered by the Sierra Madre del Sur.
Finally, the Yucatan Peninsula is a calcareous plateau with some rivers.
The most important Mexican valleys
It is a basin that includes a part of the Federal District and 58 municipalities of the state of Mexico.
It is the highest plain in the Mexican territory and has an area of 4,500 square kilometers. The Lerma river is born in its area.
It had so many water tributaries years ago that several works were built there to supply water to Mexico City. However, today only 3,000 hectares of swamps survive.
Ciénagas de Lerma
They are the most important natural wetland in the state of Mexico. They have almost 3,000 hectares in which there are varied natural resources such as water bodies, riverside trees, aquatic birds, amphibians and fish.
The main hills of Mexico
The Mexican hills have an extensive base with a rounded top. The most representative are the following:
Cerro de la Bufa
It is located east of Zacatecas, with a height that exceeds 2,000 meters above sea level. It was the refuge of several tribes of the Zacatecos. In 1588 his image was included in the coat of arms of the city.
It has several places of tourist interest: the Sanctuary of the Virgen del Patrocinio, the Zacatecas Meteorological Observatory, the Mausoleum of Illustrious Men, the city’s cable car and a monument to Pacho Villa.
Cerro de la Silla
The Cerro de la Silla owes its name to the resemblance it bears to an equestrian chair.
This hill is located in Nuevo León and belongs to the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental.
Cerro del Tepozteco
El Tepozteco is a protected natural area since 1937, with an approximate height of 2300 meters above sea level.
It is estimated that it is more than 1500 years old and it has been discovered that its construction was made in honor of Ometochtli-Tepoxtécatl, deity of fertility.
Nowadays it is a place for climbing and for family walks.
It is more than 2500 meters above sea level and on this is the famous Christ of the Mountain.
Hill of the Bells
It is a hill on which there are phonolite rocks (sound stones) that produce a semi-metallic sound very similar to that of bells. It is located in the center of the city.
It is a volcanic formation of more than 30 thousand years that goes from the center to the south of Toluca. It has an approximate height of 4690 meters above sea level.
It is a volcano that represents one of the highest peaks in Mexico and reaches the Sierra Nevada.
It is a volcano that measures approximately 5286 meters above sea level and has three elevations known as the head, the chest and the feet. From this last point the famous Paso de Cortés is formed.
The highest mountains in Mexico are:
– Orizaba or Citlaltépetl, which measures approximately 5700 meters.
– Popocatépetl, approximately 5462 meters.
– Iztaccíhuatl, with a little more than 5,000 meters.
– Xinantécatl or Nevado de Toluca, with more than 4 thousand meters high.
– Sierra Negra, Tliltépetl or Atlitzin volcano, with almost 4700 meters.
– Malintzin, who is 4460 meters tall.
– Cofre de Perote, with its 4200 meters high.
– Tacaná Volcano, which reaches 4117 meters high.
Seismology of the Mexican territory
Plains, mountains and plateaus characterize the relief of Mexico, and it is due to the intense tectonic activity that occurred during the Quaternary period.
Clear examples of this activity are the two deep ocean trenches: the Mesoamerican trench and the Gulf of California.
The movement of tectonic plates in Mexican territory is constant, but there are times when these plates get stuck and energy accumulates that explodes after a time in strong earthquakes, such as those that occurred in 1957, 1985 and 2017.
In addition, the active San Andrés fault touches the north of the country, so seismic activity is common in that area.
The main geological faults in Mexico are the San Andrés fault, the Mesoamerican fault and the transverse volcanic axis.
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- Otero, Laura (2017). Iconic hills of Mexico. Recovered from: foodandtravel.mx