Cuerno del Paine in Chile is part of the Andes mountain range.
Far from a process of smooth, inevitable upsurge, the formation of the Andean emblematic mountains was quite explosive. While the tops rising to the west coast of South America decades ago, the new study found that violent volcanic activity was shaking the continent.
Researchers have discovered this by examining the buried remains of tectonic plates on the continent. And what the scientists found surprised them
The 4,600-mile (7,000 km) Andes, the longest continuous mountain range in the world, did not form in a way that scientists have long thought. Previously, geologists thought the Naska oceanic plate, which is under the eastern Pacific Ocean, has continually and continuously suppressed (slipped) South America, causing the earth to rise and ultimately create the tall Andes. [Photos: The World̵
"The formation of Andean mountains has long been a paradigm of plate tectonics," said co-author Johnny Wu, a geology assistant at the University of Houston.
But after studying underground remains from Naska's ocean plate, which are about 900 kilometers underground, scientists have learned that the plate does not undergo a permanent and continuous subduction. Rather, Naska's plate has sometimes been cut off from the Andean end (the place where she was subordinated), which has led to volcanic activity, researchers say.
In order to verify their work, scientists have modeled the volcanic activity on this
"We were able to test this model by looking at the model of over 14,000 volcanic Andes recordings," some of which date back from the chalk, said Wu.
from Naska's repaired plate are far below ground, so how did the scientists study them?
When the tectonic plates move underground – that is, when they creep beneath the earth's crust and enter the mantle – they sink to the core, like the fallen leaves sinking to the bottom of a lake. But these sinking plates retain some of their shape, offering clues about what the earth's surface looks like millions of years ago. In the case of the Nasca plate, more than 3 500 miles of lithosphere, the outer, rigid part of the bark and top mantle was lost to the mantle, the researchers said. Data collected by earthquake waves, like computer tomography scanning (CT), allows doctors to see the inside of the patient.
"We tried to go back in time with more accuracy than ever before, in more detail than it was thought possible," said Wu, "We managed to get back to the age of dinosaurs."
In this case with this study, after analyzing these underground tectonic remains, scientists were able to assemble how the Andes formed, and the Nazca's repressor plate crashed into a transition zone or disrupted a layer in the mantle that slowed the movement of the plaque and caused it to accumulate over it, researchers said.
Their model suggests that tech the phase of the Nazca sub-basin began in today's Peru, at the end of the chalk, about 80 million years ago, the researchers wrote in the study.Then the subduction moved to the south, reaching the southern Andes in Chile from the early Cousine, about 55 million years, they say. "Thus, contrary to the present paradigm, Nazca's sub-saturation is not completely uninterrupted by the Mesozoic, but episodically different phases are involved," the researchers wrote in the study.
The study was published today (January 23rd) in the journal Nature.  Originally posted on