Conservacion Patagonica IDIOMA: ESPAÑOL

Geology

Multiple layers of rock

On the border of the Ring of Fire, Chile spans four major tectonic plates (Nazca, Scotia, South American, and Antarctic), making it a hotspot for geologic activity.

During the Triassic period, some 250 million years ago, Chile was part of the supercontinent Pangea, formed of all major landmasses in the world. Africa, Antarctica, Australia and India were closest to Chile. When Pangea began to split apart in the Jurassic about 170 million years ago, South America and the adjacent landmasses formed a new supercontinent, Gondwana. The remarkable similarities in plant species found on these now-distant landmasses date from the era of Gondwana. 27 million years ago South America separated from Antarctica and Australia with the genesis of the Drake Passage.

About 60 million years ago, the Andes began to form as the Nazca plate started subducting under the South American plate. This tectonic movement caused the uplifting, faulting, and folding of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks to the east.

During the Pleistocene epoch, the advance and retreat of glaciers played a critical role in shaping the Patagonian landscape: a giant ice field covered much of Chile and Argentina. Two large ice fields—the Northern and Southern Patagonian Ice Fields—still cover a large part of the southern region. After the ice field of southeastern Alaska, these are the largest remaining contiguous extrapolar ice fields in the world.

Composed of layers of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock, Patagonia contains some of the world's largest and best-preserved fossils, many dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. Palentologists have unearthed fossils of the Argentinosaurus, possibly the largest of all dinosaurs, as well as those of gigantic wingless birds and the enormous mammal Pyrotherium. As far as we know, the future Patagonia National Park does not contain any dinosaur fossils.

U-shaped valleys in the park's northern sector,
a sign of the area's recently glaciated past

These flat grassy plateaus in the park's
Aviles Valley are formed from sediments from
advancing and retreating glaciers