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Posts by Gerhard Wörner

Magmatism in the Central Andes

Active continental margins are shaped by subduction-related magmatism, and the Central Andes of South America are a prime example. The Central Andean orogen has evolved over the past 25 My via magmas ascending from the mantle and interacting with increasingly thickened continental crust. This process is reflected in the volumes and compositional variations of the magmas that erupt at the surface. These compositional variations can be traced in time and space, and, herein, we provide explanations for their cause and explore the nature of the Central Andes transcrustal magma systems that feed the iconic stratovolcanoes today.

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The Central Andes: Elements of an Extreme Land

The Central Andes and the Atacama Desert represent a unique geological, climatic, and magmatic setting on our planet. It is the only place on Earth where subduction of an oceanic plate below an active continental margin has led to an extensive mountain chain and an orogenic plateau that is second in size only to the Tibetan Plateau, which resulted from continental collision. In this article, we introduce the history of the Central Andes and the evolution of its landscape. We also discuss links between tectonic forces, magmatism, and the extreme hyperarid climate of this land that, in turn, has led to rich deposits of precious ores and minerals.

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What’s Your Next Dream?

While working on extinct volcanoes in Germany, I always wanted to see Hawaii. This dream came true in 1984 when I was on my way to study volcanoes in Antarctica when we passed through Hawaii … and I got the thrill of seeing Pu‘u ‘O¯ ‘o¯ erupt. Later, over a beer, I was telling my friend, Russ Harmon, how my fieldwork adventures had fulfilled a long-held dream. “So, what’s your next dream?”, he asked. “I want to work on the volcanoes of the Atacama in South America”, was my answer, not realizing that he and his colleagues were planning a field campaign to work on Parinacota Volcano in northern Chile the next year. I was invited to join.

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