Cuatro Ciénegas

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Cuatro Ciénegas de Carranza
Saint Joseph Parish
Saint Joseph Parish
Cuatro Ciénegas de Carranza is located in Mexico
Cuatro Ciénegas de Carranza
Cuatro Ciénegas de Carranza
Location in Mexico
Coordinates: 26°59′10″N 102°3′59″W / 26.98611°N 102.06639°W / 26.98611; -102.06639Coordinates: 26°59′10″N 102°3′59″W / 26.98611°N 102.06639°W / 26.98611; -102.06639
Country Mexico

Cuatro Ciénegas (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkwatɾo ˈsjeneɣas]) is a city in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila. It stands at 26°59′N 102°03′W / 26.983°N 102.050°W / 26.983; -102.050, at an average elevation of 740 metres (2,430 ft) above sea level. The city serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name.

It is located in the state's desert region (Región Desierto). Cuatro Ciénegas is Spanish for "four marshes"; the name was chosen by the first settlers because of the natural springs in the vicinity that create extensive areas of wetland and lakes.

Several failed settlements were founded here prior to the successful establishment of a town by Antonio Cordero y Bustamante on 24 May 1800. The settlement's original name was Nuestra Señora de los Dolores y Cuatro Ciénegas, which was later changed to Villa Venustiano Carranza, before finally settling on its current name.

The city is formally known as Cuatro Ciénegas de Carranza, in honour of its most famous son: Venustiano Carranza, President of Mexico from 1915 to 1920, who was born there in 1859.

The municipality reported 12,154 inhabitants in the year 2000 census.

Cuatro Ciénegas Biosphere Reserve[edit]

Official nameÁrea de Protección de Flora y Fauna Cuatrociénegas
Designated22 June 1995
Reference no.734[1]
"Poza Azul" pool

Cuatro Ciénegas is an official Mexican biological reserve. The biological reserves are small ecosystems with unique fauna and flora that are highly protected by government authorities. Recently, NASA stated that the biological reserve of Cuatrociénegas could have strong links to discovering life on Mars, since the adaptability of bioforms in the region was unique in the world. There are some 150 different plants and animals endemic to the valley and its surrounding mountains (e.g., Fouquieria shrevei).[citation needed] Among the many aquatic species in the Reserve are three endemic turtles (Coahuilan box turtle, Cuatro Ciénegas slider and Cuatro Cienegas softshell),[2] eight endemic fish (Minckley's cichlid, Cuatro Cienegas shiner, Tufa darter, Bolson pupfish, Cuatro Cienegas pupfish, Cuatrociengas gambusia, Cuatrocienegas killifish and northern platyfish),[3] and several endemic crustaceans and gastropods, especially hydrobiid freshwater snails.[4][5]

Live stromatolites inhabit Cuatro Ciénegas' pools. These are colonies of certain types of cyanobacteria, extirpated in most of the world, linked to the origin of an oxygen rich atmosphere over 3 billion years ago. A tiny copepod crustacean, Leptocaris stromatolicolus, is known only from the interstices of these stromatolites and bottom sediments in the saline pools.

The pools are an oligotrophic environment with little available phosphate,[6] leading one local bacterial species, Bacillus coahuilensis, to acquire the genes necessary to partially replace its membrane phospholipids with sulfolipids through horizontal gene transfer.[7]

Several environmental conservation leaders are working to protect the valley, including Pronatura Noreste. The organization owns a private reserve, called Pozas Azules, and has several ongoing projects that include the protection of native species, including stromatolites and the eradication of invasive flora and fauna, as well as community development and water efficient agriculture combined with organic techniques.


Cuatro ciénegas has several natural tourist attractions, they include among them the white dunes and many wetlands which have unique ecosystems. The most famous natural attractions are:

Poza Azul[edit]

Poza Azul.

Poza Azul is a protected wetland, located 9 km (5.6 mi) from Cuatrociengas seat. It is one of the best known wetlands in Cuatrocienegas. There are a photographic exhibition hall of the flora and fauna of the reserve, viewing platforms, and self-guided trails.

La Poza de la Becerra[edit]

La Poza de la Becerra (Spanish: The Pool of the Calf) is located 16 km (9.9 mi) from the county seat, on road number 30 Cuatrociénegas-Torreon. It is part of the biosphere reserve of Cuatrocienegas. The area contains many species endemic to the region.

Poza Churince[edit]

Poza Churince is located 18 km (11 mi) from the Cuatrociénegas seat by the federal highway 30 Cuatrociénegas-Torreon. It is an area of Splooging waters and varying temperatures.

Las Playitas[edit]

Las Playitas is a large extension of wetlands located close to the municipal seat.

White dunes[edit]

"Las Dunas de Yeso" in Cuatrociénegas.

Also known in Spanish as "Las Dunas de Yeso", white dunes cover a large area of white sand that consists of calcium sulfate. They are considered the largest in the country, and the third largest in the Americas.

Other tourist attractions[edit]

Other featured wetlands include "Nogalito" and the ecotouristic park "La Ilusión". As well as El Entronque and El Mesquite resorts. The Sierra de la Campana, a mountain range with a huge crater called El hundido is also a tourist attraction. Cuatro Cienégas is also an important wine-making region, the winery Bodegas Ferrino, founded by a 19th-century Italian immigrant near the town of Cuatro Ciénegas, is the second largest producer of wine in Coahuila, the site attracts many visitors which are immersed in the process of making wine and it offers guide tours around the Cuatro Ciénegas valley.

Drying out[edit]

Scientists working in the basin and some local residents claim to have observed reduced spring discharge and a decrease in surface water in the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin (CCB) in recent years, although these changes have not been well documented in the scientific literature. Some have blamed the possible drying out on changes in climate and others have ascribed it to the introduction of large scale agriculture in adjacent valleys over the past two decades.

Valeria Souza, an ecology professor and researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, found that based on genetic studies of microbes in the CCB and surrounding valleys, the aquifer extends far beyond the CCB and includes adjacent valleys.[8] She published her results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in April 2006. Regarding the source of drying out, she wrote: "Similar to situations occurring with increasing frequency in various arid regions of the world, agricultural development and associated water extraction in the region have placed new pressures on the ecological integrity of the unique ecosystems of Cuatro Ciénegas."

Research by hydrogeologist Brad Wolaver at the University of Texas at Austin, now at Flinders University, also found evidence that the aquifer supplying the water that emerges at the surface of the Cuatro Ciénegas Basin extends far beyond the basin and thus is potentially impacted by agricultural water extraction in adjacent valleys.[9][10]


Climate data for Cuatro Ciénegas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 20
Average low °C (°F) 4.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 10
Source: Weatherbase [11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna Cuatrociénegas". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ Rhodin, A.G.J.; J.B. Iverson; R. Bour; U. Fritz; A. Georges; H.B. Shaffer; P.P. van Dijk (2017). Turtles of the World: Annotated Checklist and Atlas of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. 7 (8 ed.). IUCN SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. pp. 1–292. doi:10.3854/crm.7.checklist.atlas.v8.2017.
  3. ^ Ceballos, G.; E.D. Pardo; L.M Estévez; H.E. Pérez, eds. (2016). Los peces dulceacuícolas de México en peligro de extinción. ISBN 978-607-16-4087-1.
  4. ^ "Cuatro Cienegas". Freshwater Ecoregions of the World. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  5. ^ Dinger, Eric (December 2001), Aquatic Invertebrates of Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila, México and Effects of Fish on Stromatolite Invertebrate Assemblages, Northern Arizona University
  6. ^ Borrell, Brendan (2010-11-01). "Elemental Shortage". The Scientist. 24 (11): 46. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  7. ^ Alcaraz, Luis David; et al. (2008-04-11). "The genome of Bacillus coahuilensis reveals adaptations essential for survival in the relic of an ancient marine environment". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences. 105 (15): 5803–5808. doi:10.1073/pnas.0800981105. PMC 2311347. PMID 18408155. Archived from the original on 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  8. ^ Souza (2006) "An endangered oasis of aquatic microbial biodiversity in the Chihuahuan desert" "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2009-01-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Wolaver (2008), "Hydrogeology of the Cuatrocienegas Basin, Coahuila, Mexico: An Integrative Approach to Arid Karst Aquifer Delineation" Archived 2008-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Wolaver (2008), "Delineation of Regional Arid Karstic Aquifers: An Integrative Data Approach"[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila". Weatherbase. 2011. Archived from the original on 2017-09-01. Retrieved on November 24, 2011.

External links[edit]