Subduction Causes Orogeny

Subduction Causes Orogeny or the Volcanoes of Arequipa.  The first title is more of an attention grabber isn’t it?  Now get your mind out of the gutter because this isn’t that type of blog.  Orogeny is simply mountain building that’s caused by subduction.  And that’s something that happens at a very high rate on the western side of South America where the Nazca Plate dives under the South America Plate.  It’s the reason for the many active volcanoes and very large earthquakes.

Arequipa lies in the shadow of three volcanoes, El Misti (active), Chachani (dormant), and Pichu Pichu (extinct).  Andean legend says when the earth was created that Chachani, a women, loved El Misti and chose to live with him.  Pichu Pichu also loved Chachani and cried a lot when Chachani chose El Misti which accounts for the lagoons at the top of Pichu Pichu.

Legends aside, Arequipa, a city of a million people, precariously sits in a beautiful and dangerous location – squarely in the path of ancient lava and ash flows.  Many of its building are built from sillar, a white volcanic stone, which turns a spectacular rosy pink in the evening sun.  Evening in the city’s main square is a must see.

Like many main squares in South America, a fountain is in the center and a large cathedral borders it.  One of the major activities in Arequipa’s main square is feeding the pigeons.  Don’t bother with the restaurants on the square.  There are better options a few blocks away.  We highly recommend Zig Zag Restaurant a few blocks away from the square.

Raeski and I did a lot of walking while in Arequipa.  Some of the streets are quite beautiful and don’t be afraid to walk the streets at night.  Arequipa is fairly safe.  Be sure to take something warm to wear after the sun goes down.  Arequipa’s elevation is 7,300 feet (2,225 meters) and the temperatures drop rapidly at that altitude.

There are many lovely photogenic architectural elements in the city.  The monastery (see post) is a photographer’s dream.  Arequipa is a photo-op waiting to happen at seemingly every street you venture down.

Dominating the central square is the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa.  Like all churches built in this era it’s the largest building in the city.  Regardless of your thoughts about religions, these old churches are worth a look inside.  Artwork, arches and stained glass await those who enter.

While many forego the trip to Arequipa when visiting Peru, we’re glad we didn’t.  Otherwise Wooly wouldn’t have captured this butterfly shot.

Arequipa Butterfly
Arequipa Butterfly
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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Green

It’s spring in the other half of the world and last month we traveled north to La Serena and the Elqui Valley.  Both places sit at the southern end of the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world, So green isn’t the most ever-present color in the area.  But in the valley floors where streams and rivers might flow – green is everywhere.

In the Atacama wherever water can be found there will be green.
In the Atacama wherever water can be found there will be green.

The northernmost vineyards in Chile are found in the Elqui Valley.  These are the grapes which are crushed, fermented and then distilled into Pisco, a brandy-like elixir.

The northernmost vineyards in Chile
The northernmost vineyards in Chile

A big surprise for us was discovering papaya is grown here.  Grown on the steep sides of the mountains you identify them by their dark green color.

Papayas on a mountainside in the Atacama
Papayas on a mountainside in the Atacama

September is bud break time for grape vines.

Springtime bud break in September
Springtime bud break in September

As you drive closer to the Argentina border you leave the vineyards behind and enter into areas where the most green you may find is on a road sign.

Sometimes the most green in the Atacama is found on the road signs.
Sometimes the most green in the Atacama is found on the road signs.

Travel Theme: Broken

Alicia’s travel theme this week is broken.  http://wheresmybackpack.com

Of course windows can be broken….

Four Fifths
Four Fifths

And sometimes trees break and get jammed against cruise ships…

 

The Unexpected

And sometimes our sense of direction gets broken…

Where are we?
Where are we?

And old historic modes of transportation like many of Valparaiso’s ascensors are broken…

Ascensor Artillería
Ascensor Artillería

And our hearts break when someone beloved passes on.

Evita Perón
Evita Perón

El Diario – 18 Octubre 2014

This week when we got to work we were asked if we felt the tremor (check out the Earthquakes tab) earlier in the morning (we didn’t).    That got me to wondering what Chileans believe is the difference between an earthquake and a tremor.  They called this year’s 8.2 in Iquique and the 7.1 off the coast of Easter Island an earthquake and Tuesday’s 5.2 a tremor.

To further complicate matters – on the same day last August we had a 6.5 tremor while Napa had a 6.0 earthquake.  Confused yet?  Well this got Wooly thinking (oh, oh) about what the difference is between a tremor and an earthquake.  After checking numerous sites on the web that all disagreed about the intensity required to promote a tremor to earthquake status Wooly came up with one conclusion.

Armed with that conclusion Wooly decided to test it at work the next morning.  When he asked his gringo friends they pretty much concluded anything above 6.0 would qualify as a full-fledged earthquake.  A couple of them said before they came to Chile that number would have been around 5.0 or so.  Yet when the Chileans were asked they all pretty much agreed it takes a 7.0 or greater to be called a bona-fide earthquake.

So there you have it.  If you live in an area where ground movement is rare or occasional, anything you feel is an earthquake.  Yet someone living in an area with frequent ground movement it takes a higher number.  Or in the case of Chile with lots of large earth movements (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_Chile) it seems a 7.0 or greater is required before the local folks grant a tremor earthquake status.  For those who remember, just think of the damage the 1989 6.9 Loma Prieta (the World Series earthquake) caused and how many lives were lost or the 1994 6.7 Northridge quake in the L.A. area.   I had to chuckle last March when a friend commented on the 5.1 earthquake they had in L.A. had him shook up.  Sorry, had to do that.

And what about the Valparaiso and Viña del Mar areas where we live?  Here is a list of Valparaiso earthquakes:

  • 1730 – 8.7
  • 1737 – 7.7
  • 1822 – 8.5
  • 1829 – 7.0
  • 1831 – 7.8
  • 1833 – 7.7
  • 1900’s – Nothing
  • 2000’s – Nothing

A 200 year gap without any significant earthquakes makes us overdue for a very large one.  It could possibly even be in the 9.x range.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen while we’re here, or if it does nothing falls on us or collapses underneath us.

Zapallar Flowers

It’s spring (Wooly’s favorite time of year) in Chile and nothing says spring to us more than wildflowers.  We recently traveled to a small seaside community called Zapallar.  (Sap-pie-yar)  By the ocean there are two restaurants and a very nice small beach.  The signs of spring were evident with bright blossoms everywhere you looked.  A nicely maintained path led along the shore past the sandy beach to a rocky shore.  It led further but we ran out of time to fully explore the place.  But there are lots of pictures to share with everyone.  Enjoy the show and please let us know your favorite.

Valparaiso’s Vintage VW’s

Valparaiso is a surprising city.  When walking the streets you never know what you’re going to find one weekend to the next.  It could be an art show in a square or a wine festival.  Or maybe even a protest. After all, the Chilean Congress convenes here in Valpo.  However, on this weekend it was a bunch of vintage VW’s in Sotomayor Plaza.  Just like in the States, they love their bugs too.