Requesting Information

Guillermo Horta-Puga horta at
Mon Nov 10 10:18:26 EST 1997

To All Coral Reef Community

Apologies for cross-postings

The Veracruz Reef System (VRS) constituted by more than 20 single reefs, is
situated off the port and city of Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico. Because
of its unique location in front of one of the largest cities in the Western
Gulf of Mexico, VRS has been subjected to many threats from chemical
pollution to overfishing and so on. As you probably may know, Veracruz was
founded by the spanishman conquerer of Mexico, Hernan Cortes in 1519, and
soon becomes the most important via of communication between the colony of
New Spain and Europe. The city began an era of increased development by
early 17th century, which demands the construction of solid public
buildings and houses in order to resist the hard weather of the region, and
even pirate attacks. As there was no appropiate rock materials in the
vicinity of the city, men used hard corals (scleractinians) as
constructional blocks, which were named "Piedra de Mucar". The downtown,
the wall and some fortresses that surrounded the city by the 18th and 19th
centuries, were build with piedra de mucar obtained from the nearby reefs
of the VRS. Thousand of tons of coral rock were collected, for example in
the beginning of this century ca. 46000 cubic meters of coral rock were
extracted from the bottom of the Veracruz Bay by dredge vessels and were
used to landfill part of the actual dock area. The mexican historian Lerdo
de Tejada pointed out in the middle of the 18th century that   -!!!almost
1106 buildings and houses were made with piedra the mucar and that a great
quantity of corals also were pulverized to be used as mortar!!!-. The
impact of building activities was enormous for the VRS and included the
partial destruction of the Gallega, Hornos and Caleta reefs.

In the present I and some colleagues are preparing a manuscript that resume
the information obtained from ancient maps, old navigation charts and
reports of construction, in order to evaluate, as long as possible, the
impact on the VRS and the change of reef morphology in the lasts five
centuries. Veracruz has been a very important port, and several dozens of
maps and/or navigation charts that included the morphology and position of
the reefs are available, and more or less give us an idea of the change. We
know that corals have been also used in other world areas as construction
blocks, some examples are: Some public buildings in the downtown of La
Habana, Cuba; the main piramid of the Tulum complex in the Mexican
Caribbean; and some islands in the Indopacific area. We need all the
information about this topic, so your kindly help will be appreciated.

Do you know about some other areas at which corals were used for construction?

Would you like to pointed me out about some literature regarding this topic?

Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information about the
environmental status of the VRS and any other information on the VRS.

Please answer directly to me.

Guillermo Horta-Puga 

TEL: +(52-5) 6231219, 6231212
FAX: +(52-5) 6231212
E-MAIL: horta at

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list