Chile – ancient land of frozen volcanoes

Natural attractions of Chile

The territory of Chile is a narrow strip of land stretching along the Pacific Ocean, bounded by the Andes mountain range. Its plains are used mainly for agriculture, in the intermountain valleys, there are still areas of relict forest. The mountainous landscape of Chile is created by alternating mountains and cones of volcanoes, among which there are both active and extinct. The most popular among them are Osorno, which is incredibly similar to Japan’s Fujiyama, and Villarrica, in the crater of which the lava lake splashes.

But the most important natural treasure of Chile is the coastline of more than 6,000 km. It is here located Chilean fjords of incredible beauty, the journey through the winding ribbons which gives vivid impressions. The northern coast of the country is famous for the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places in the world. The Lauca Biosphere Reserve, where the clearest glacial streams and archaeological sites are flanked by the world’s highest lakes, captivates with its entirely different beauty.

Chilean Fjords

Chilean Fjords.

The Chilean fjords are beautiful and rugged. These narrow canyons are channels of melted glaciers. They cut into the land for tens of kilometers. The fjords are a clear demonstration of the power of the glaciers, which have carved almost steep gorges into the granite. When the Ice Age ended, the glaciers began to retreat. The level of the ocean rose significantly, flooding some of the mountain ranges (only the tops are reminded of them – numerous islands off the coast of Chilean Patagonia) and filling the fjords with water.

Above the fjords rise the Andes with sparkling glaciers. There are 48 glaciers in the southern Patagonian ice field, but 46 of them are still melting. Only Pius XI Glacier is steadily expanding. Reaching its boundary through a maze of fjords, one can see the power of a glacier that uproots centuries-old trees. Near Pius XI, the cracking of the ice is deafening, and the chipping ice floes fall with a rumbling and hissing sound.

Scientists have not yet found an explanation for this natural anomaly: whether it is the tectonic processes that contribute to the expansion of the ice field, or the instability of the glacier, because Pius XI is a “warm” glacier (its ice temperature equals its melting point).

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Osorno Volcano

Osorno Volcano.

Osorno volcano (2652 m) from Lake Llanquihue at its foot bears an uncanny resemblance to the sacred Japanese Mount Fujiema. It has the same regular conical shape and dome, covered year-round by glaciers. It turns out that even volcanoes on earth have twins. At the same time, Osorno in Chile is no less popular than Fuji in his homeland: it can be found on numerous souvenirs, and hiking on its slopes is invariably popular with tourists.

The scenery surrounding the volcano is no less fascinating. Blue Lake Llanquihue and ringing waterfalls against the backdrop of a snow-covered cone

Osorno look very picturesque. On the slope of the volcano is a ski base with an observation deck that offers breathtaking views of the neighboring volcanoes and water beauty. Osorno is a great place for mountain climbing, rafting and canyoning. But despite its relative calm over the past 150 years, the volcano is considered active, with 11 eruptions recorded between 1575 and 1869.

Milodon Cave

Milodon Cave

About 13,000 years ago, giant sloths, the milodons, lived on earth. They were up to 3 meters long and weighed more than 200 kilograms, even though they were herbivores. These animals became extinct about 10 thousand years ago, until our days survived only the remains of one of them, found in a Chilean cave in the late XIX century. Since then the cave is called Milodon, and before its entrance sculpture of the ancient animal, so that tourists could better imagine how looked like a guest from the past. In the cave also found traces of sites of ancient people – contemporaries of Milodon.

Three underground grottoes are united under the name “Milodon Cave”. The most beautiful part of these karst formations is a huge hall 200 m long, 80 m wide and 30 m high. From its ceiling hang stalactites of bizarre forms up to 30 cm long. The acoustics in the hall is amazing, so tourists are asked not to make loud noises. There is no artificial lighting in Milodon, but the large entrance lets in enough daylight to see the beauty hidden in the mountain formation. The cave is especially picturesque at sunset in March, when the bright orange sunlight penetrates its very center.

El Tatio Geyser Valley

El Tatio Geyser Valley

El Tatio Geyser Valley in the wee hours of the morning is like a veritable hell, where the oppressive icy grayness of the surrounding landscape is bathed in the warm mist from the hot springs. But as soon as the sun rises, everything around is transformed, turning pink, and the sun’s rays turn into rainbows, and the nighttime cold gives way to heat.

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Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert, the driest and most lifeless desert on the planet, is located in northern Chile. The life-giving, moist air from the Amazon is blocked by mountains, so the desert can only rely on moisture in the form of fine suspension and the infrequent arrival of moist air masses from the Pacific. This rare effect causes the dead sands of the Chilean desert to be carpeted with wildflowers of bizarre shapes and colors, making the landscapes even more majestic.

Villarrica Volcano

Villarrica Volcano

Villarrica volcano (2,847 m) towers over the lake and town of the same name. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Chile: a small column of smoke almost always rises from its vent. But eruptions are no surprise here, as the country has 15% of the world’s active volcanoes. Villarrica has a special reverence since ancient times: its historical name is Quisarayp, which means “home of the spirits”. The top of the volcano is covered by a glacier with an area of 40 km 2 and in its crater there is a lava lake.

Villarrica is one of the most picturesque places in northern Chile, and there is a national park with the same name. In the cold season, on the northern slope of the volcano operates a ski resort, where there are suitable pistes for both beginners and pros. Villarrica is no less popular among climbers, but when conquering it, your luck depends on the wind direction, as sulfur gases, spewed by the volcano, if in contact with the eyes can impair vision, so in such a situation, the ascent is stopped. Another attraction of Villarrica are the volcanic caves, which are located at its foot.

These are nothing but folds of solidified lava. In addition, at the volcano you can bathe in geothermal springs.

Lauca Biosphere Reserve

Lauca Biosphere Reserve

The Lauca Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 1,379 km2 in northern Chile. It is a treasure trove of natural beauty. There is nothing here: a network of small lakes of wondrous beauty, huge volcanoes, archaeological monuments, wide steppes and the clearest mountain streams. Chungara and Katakoni, the highest mountain lakes in the world, are home to many representatives of the local fauna. Overhanging giants – the militant volcano Gualiatiri and half-destroyed Akotango – are striking.

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Chile – ancient land of frozen volcanoes

Picture of Tolhuaca Volcano

Coordinates: 38.31°S, 1.645°W. Tolhuaca (or Tolguaca) is a Late Plistocene-Holocene stratovolcano located immediately northwest of Lonquimai Volcano. The zone of aligned apical craters from northwest to southeast is the youngest to the northwest. Another group of vents, cutting through the southern and eastern flanks, is oriented NE-NW, parallel to the zone of flank vents on Lonkimai, and is postglacial in age (Moreno and Gardeweg 1989). Reports of eruptions in 1876 and January 7, 1933, have not been confirmed; the latter date probably refers to the Lonquimai or Llym eruption (Petit-Breuilh 1994, pers. comm.). Polanco et al. (2000) stated that the explosive activity consisted of three VEI 3-4 eruptions between 8050 and 6590 BC. The Pemehue volcanic trend in the north . Read more “

Photo of Palomo Volcano

Coordinates: 34.608°S, 0.295°W. Palomo is a small stratovolcano, somewhat dissected by glaciers. Andres Cone, located on the northeastern slope, is post-glacial in age and has produced andesitic lava flows. The volcano is located west of the massive caldera del Atuel and was built within twin calderas 3 and 5 km in diameter. The ice-covered volcano erupted basalt andesite and dacite lava flows; the double crater indicates a migration of activity to the northeast. The juvenile morphology indicates a very recent, possibly pre-Hispanic age.

Photo of Mentholat caldera

Coordinates: 44.7°S, 73.08°W. Mentholat Volcano is a 6 km wide ice-filled caldera in the central part of Magdalena Island across the Puyuhuapi Strait from Puerto Cisnes. The eruption, which occurred about 7,000 years ago, created a layer of pumice and scale extending to the southeast. The young andesite lava flow on the west side of the volcano may be its most recent product. Historical accounts of Serrano describe an eruption in the early 18th century that may refer to this lava flow.

Photo of Sollipuli Volcano

The coordinates are 38.97°S, 71.52°W. The 4 km wide, glacier-filled Sollipulli Caldera lies to the east of the Pleistocene Nevados de Sollipulli complex. No large siliceous pyroclastic rocks associated with the formation of the caldera have been found; it is probably of non-explosive origin. Postcaldera eruptions were concentrated along the walls of the caldera and increased its height. A series of dacite lava domes are located along the edges of the caldera to the east and south. The 1 km wide Alpehue crater dissecting the western edge was the source of a major Plinian eruption of 2900 BC (BP). Blast craters and scoria cones were found on the outer flanks. Two cones on the northern flank formed lava flows during the last documented activity around 700 BC (Naranjo et al., 199 . Read more “

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Photo of San Pedro Pellado volcano

Coordinates: 35.989°S, 70.849°W. The San Pedro-Pellado volcanic complex (also known as San Pedro Tatara) was active from the Pliocene to the Holocene. The Tatara-San Pedro volcano lies above the deeply eroded Pellado stratovolcano; both were built in a 6 x 12 km Rio Colorado caldera that was formed during an eruption about 0.5 million years ago. The basalt-andesite shield volcano Tatara in the western part of the complex contains stacked sequences of up to 100 or more lava flows, forming up to 1500 m of relief. The glacier-filled summit crater of the 3,621-meter-dominant andesite stratovolcano San Pedro, which lies above Tatara volcano, contains a young scoria cone that was the site of the most recent eruptions. A large Holocene mudflow l . Read more “

Picture of the Meullin volcanic field

Coordinates: 45.22°S, 73.05°W. The Meullin volcanic field consists of a chain of well-preserved ash cones located along the Lago Meullin, Lago Yulton, Rio Cuervo and Kitralco faults in the Liquino-Ofcui regional fault zone. These cones are located on both sides of the Aisen Fjord (Aisen) and are considered Holocene (Vargas et al., 2013). The ash cones, some of which are subaquatic, extend southward along NE-SW, NW-SE, and NW-SE lines from Lake Yulton. The largest cluster of cones is between Lake Meullin and the older Pleistocene Meullin volcano west of the volcanic field, and additional wooded cinder cones have been built along the Rio Pescado Valley south of Aisen Fjord.

Photo of Osorno Volcano

Coordinates: 41.105°S, 72.496°W. The symmetrical, glacier-covered volcano Osorno is a famous landmark overlooking Todos los Santos and Llanquihue lakes. It was built over the erupted stratovolcano La Picada, which is about 250,000 years old and has a mostly buried caldera 6 km wide. La Picada lies below Osorno in the northeast and has post-glacial maars and scoria cones. Osorno, 2652 m high with a predominance of basalt and basalt-andesite rocks, is one of the most active volcanoes of the southern Chilean Andes and contains two small dacite lava domes on its northwestern and southeastern flanks. The flanking scoria cones and fissure vents, mainly on the western and southern sides, produced lava flows that reached Lago Llanquihue. Frequent explosions . Read more “

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photo of Cerro Tuhle

Coordinates: 23.83°S, 7.95°W. Cerro Tuchle (also known as Cerro Tuchle or Cerro Tugle) is a Mao Volcanic center in the Central Volcanic zone of the Andes, Chile. It forms a maar 60 m deep. The eruption products are apx.s. This crater was previously identified in 1977 as the Salar de Atacama and Western Cordillera at an elevation of 3554 m on the Corde Tuhle Ridge, 20 km southeast of Peu. The crater has a width of 333 m, appearance, and is surrounded by volcanic sediments. The crater appears to have formed after the initial eruption of a lava flow turned phreatomagmatic.

Photo of the Puntiago Cordon Volcano

Coordinates: 40.969°S, 72.264°W. The Puntiagudo-Cordon Senisos volcanic chain is located between Lago Rupanco and Lago Todos Los Santos in the Chilean Lake District. Puntiagudo volcano is a Late Pleistocene andesite stratovolcano with a prominent pointed peak, formed by glacial dissection. An 18 km long system of fractures with more than 40 late Pleistocene-Holocene scoria basalt cones and small stratovolcanoes extends northeastward. Lava flows from these centers descend to the northwest and southeast, in some cases reaching the shores of two lakes, forming irregular peninsulas. The only historic eruption occurred in 1850, when ash fell from the Cordon Senisos chain.

photo of the Minijões volcano

The coordinates are 23.82°S, 67.77°W. Migniques Volcano is a large basalt-andesite and dacite volcanic complex south of Laguna Miscanti and Laguna Migniques. The summit is cut by three overlapping craters. The larger craters, partially filled with lava domes and flows, are located to the west and northeast of the summit. The stratovolcano and lava-dome complex is thought to have been active from the Pliocene to the Holocene (González-Ferrán, 1995); de Silva (2007 pers. comm.) determined its possible Holocene age. A prominent lava flow extends northwestward from the summit to the lower flanks, separating Laguna Mientes from Laguna Miscanti.

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