Fundación Glaciares Chilenos is working to fill a gaping hole in Chilean environmental policy.
Andes Archives - State of the Planet
Fish bones reveal the seasonal fishing patterns of Patagonians thousands of years ago, illustrating how prehistoric communities adapted to their environments.
The end of a 52-year internal conflict could spell trouble for the second most biodiverse country in the world. A new study outlines a sustainable path forward.
On a man in the mountains, dusk falls;
Shadows seep upward and spread.
Scaling the black, chiseled walls,
He silently seeks the dead.
Since 2010, the Earth Institute’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society along with UNESCO and their colleagues in Chile have been working with Elqui’s water authority to help them use seasonal forecasts as way to better allocate water and prepare for droughts.
After more than six weeks trawling the Peruvian Andes in search of palaeoclimate clues, our field team is visiting the last site, a potential calibration sites near Coropuna. The objective of that ongoing work is to refine the cosmogenic surface-exposure method for the tropics, thereby improving the precision of new and existing datasets.
Our field team has set camp at 5045 m on the dusty slopes of Ampato, an extinct, ice-clad volcano in the Western Cordillera. This is the very mountain from which Juanita, the famous Incan ‘ice maiden’, was plucked back in 1995. The tents are clustered in the lee of a large glacial erratic and, now the clouds have cleared, the view is second to none, taking in the dry plains far below and myriad volcanic peaks in every direction.
After a busy few weeks in the Cordillera Carabaya, our field team has said goodbye to the snowy, tempestuous climate of the eastern Andes and is moving west to the desert of Arequipa. Here the mountains are massive, isolated volcanoes, many of which exceed 6000 m in elevation. In fact, Coropuna is the third highest mountain in Peru and certainly the most sprawling.
Our field team has acquired a dog, ¨”Mooch”. Walking back to camp yesterday, amid driving snow and fully laden with rock samples, there he was exploring what passes for our kitchen. Unlike most Andean dogs – ferocious beasts trained to keep geologists from harassing the livestock – this one is a cheerful soul, happy to hang around and be fed whatever is going, and always up for affection.
Thanks in large part to Matt, an undergraduate from Pacific Lutheran University in Washington, our field team now has more than sixty samples for surface-exposure dating. This is no easy feat, for collecting these samples requires a great deal of hammering on granite boulders with nothing more than a hammer and chisel. There are other ways of doing it, such as using small explosive charges, rock saws, or splitting wedges, but we find that good old-fashioned hammering is by far the safest way.