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Cavernas Las Quarteles, Sistema Zacatón

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 22.9965 N -98.1572 W
No:112        (list of all attractions)
Values:Geology, Biology
Address:North America, Mexico, Tamaulipas, southern part of the state, 12 km north-west from Aldama town
Alternate names:Caverna Los Quarteles
Length:1,680 m

The unique Sistema Zacatón contains several cave systems and the largest among them is Las Quarteles.

Sistema Zacatón is area with incredible characteristics unparalleled in the world. In total area contains some 20 unusual features - sinkholes, caves, springs created by deep groundwater heated by volcanic processes. Karstification processes here continue today as well - acidic groundwater continues to strip away the limestone and deposits it in unusual travertine formations.

Caves with fig trees

Las Quarteles is a dry, comparatively level cave with large passages, at some places ceiling is quite high. Caves are located close to the land surface and there are many (at least 11) collapse sinks with sky and Mexican jungle above. Jungle comes inside the cave too: in some collapse sinks grow enormous fig trees - higerons, adding eerie, unusual aura to caves. Some rooms on caves inhabited by numerous bats.

In the northern and middle section of cave system the passages have very variable cross section while the southern part has more even passages: possibly formed under the water level.

Unfortunately in some parts of the cave the cave formations have been damaged and cave disfigured by graffiti.


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  1. Marcus Gary, Las Quarteles, Sistema Zacatón, research homepage. Accessed on June 27, 2010
  2. Gary, R.H. 2005. Anthropogenic Activities and Karst Landscapes: A Case Study of the Deep, Thermal, Sulfuric Karst System in Tamaulipas, Mexico, University of Texas at Austin Masters thesis.

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