The Los Chocoyos Ash, guatemala: A major stratigraphic marker in middle America and in three ocean basins

Document Type


Publication Date



The Los Chocoyos Ash, having erupted from vents near the Lake Atitlán caldera, Guatemala, is perhaps the largest Quaternary silicic pyroclastic unit in Central America. It consists of an underlying H-tephra member and an overlying ash-flow member. One-hundred-and-five samples of ash from the Guatemalan Highlands and deep-sea cores in the equatorial Pacific and Gulf of Mexico were analyzed by neutron activation and/or electron microprobe. Glass shard chemistry, determined by microprobe, is useful for distinguishing several very widespread, distinct, deep-sea ash layers, but needs support from trace-element data when applied on land to distinguish between many individual eruptions from the same province. Data from this study support the correlation of the Worzel ‘D’ layer and the Los Chocoyos Ash proposed by Hahn et al. (1979) and Bowles et al.(1973). Chemical data from this study are used to correlate the Y-8 ash layer of the Gulf of Mexico with the Los Chocoyos Ash. The recognition of the Los Chocoyos Ash in the Gulf of Mexico and equatorial Pacific increases the known areal extent of the unit to more than 6 × 106 km2 and allows an age of 84,000 yr B.P. to be assigned to the formation on the basis of oxygen-isotope stratigraphy, biostratigraphy, and Pa-Th-isotope data. Trace-element data obtained from seven other ash layers in the Gulf of Mexico and the equatorial Pacific, when combined with new land-based data, should allow further correlation and dating of ash units in Central America.

Publisher's Statement

© 1980 Published by Elsevier Inc. Publisher's version of record:

Publication Title

Quarternary Research