• Scientists of the University of Oviedo reconstruct the formation of the Andes mountain range

    April 11, 2013

    The Paleoandes II project aims at reconstructing how the mountain range was formed between 300 and 500 million years ago

    Paso del Agua Negra, High Andes mountain range. Transversal cut of the Andes mountain range with the majority of the participants in the 3 projects.

    The group of Asturian geologists collaborates with researchers from the University of Buenos Aires

    How the tallest mountains in America were formed during the Paleozoic Era. That is the question that a group of scientists from the Department of Geology of the University of Oviedo aim at answering, directed by Professor Joaquín García Sansegundo. The Asturian scientists, in collaboration with experts from the University of Buenos Aires, have just started a new phase on the Paleoandes II project, whose goal is to reconstruct how the Andes mountain range was formed during the Paleozoic.

    The research team from the University of Oviedo is trying to determine the process that the great American mountain massif followed after having conducted a similar research in the Iberian peninsula. The Department of Geology of the Asturian academic institution started researching the formation process of the Andes in 2003 and, since then, it has collaborated with the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME), of the University of Barcelona, and with Chilean and Argentinian research centers.

    The projects are financed by the National Plan of Science of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and it is planned that they last until the beginning of 2016.

    In the Paleoandes II project, the campaigns carried out on the field have had a important relevance. The experts have made several expeditions to the Andes range, carrying out their field work at more than 4,000 high.

    What happened with Gondwana

    The team has finished the first phase of the studies on the rocks and geological structures that appear in four sectors of the Andes mountain range (Chile and Argentina), a key aspect for knowing how how the biggest mountain range in America emerged.

    Several geological structures, originated in five different orogenic periods, have been identified and thoroughly analyzed in the four regions of interest (the oriental range, the pre-range, the frontal range and the Chilean coast). With this informations, scientists may be able to know better the evolution of the ancient macro-continent known as Gondwana.

    The scientific interest of all the studied structures -each of them related to the process of subduction or continental collision- resides in the fact that they explain how the Andes mountain range emerged. A detailed knowledge of these range formation processes may be a valuable contribution to fields such as s mininng prospection or engineering.

    Noteworthy among the main results of this research project, published in several international journals, is the geological characterization and geographic distribution of the different orogenic movements that have been identified.