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Cavernas Las Quarteles, Sistema Zacaton

WorldBlue  In short

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

3.7 out of 10 stars 37.0%

GPS coordinates
22.9965 N 98.1572 W
Location, address
North America, Mexico, Tamaulipas, southern part of the state, 12 km north-west from Aldama town
Alternate names
Caverna Los Quarteles
1,680 m

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Sistema Zacatón is an 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 the sky and Mexican jungle above. The jungle comes inside the cave too: in some collapse sinks grow enormous fig trees – higerons, adding an eerie, unusual aura to caves. Some rooms on caves are inhabited by numerous bats.

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

Unfortunately in some places the cave formations have been damaged and caves disfigured by graffiti.


  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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Hypogene Karst Regions and Caves of the World

This book illustrates the diversity of hypogene speleogenetic processes and void-conduit patterns depending on variations of the geological environments by presenting regional and cave-specific case studies. The cases include both well-known and newly recognized hypogene karst regions and caves of the world. They all focus on geological, hydrogeological, geodynamical, and evolutionary contexts of hypogene speleogenesis.

Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science

The Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science contains 350 alphabetically arranged entries. The topics include cave and karst geoscience, cave archaeology and human use of caves, art in caves, hydrology and groundwater, cave and karst history, and conservation and management. The Encyclopedia is extensively illustrated with photographs, maps, diagrams, and tables, and has thematic content lists and a comprehensive index to facilitate searching and browsing.

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