||Parinacota Volcano, Chile-Bolivia Border Region, South America |
Note: This caption refers to the image versions labeled "NASA's Earth Observatory web site".
Volcan Parinacota (“flamingo lake” in the regional Aymara language) is a potentially active stratovolcano located on the Altiplano, a high plateau situated within the Andes mountains of west-central South America. While no direct observations of eruptive activity are recorded, surface exposure age-dating of lava flows suggests that activity occurred as recently as 290 AD ± 300 years. Local Aymara stories also suggest that the volcano has erupted during the past 1000 years.
This detailed astronaut photograph from the International Space Station highlights the symmetrical cone of Parinacota, with its well-developed summit crater (elevation 6348 meters above sea level) at image center. Dark brown to dark gray surfaces to the east and west of the summit include lava flows, pyroclastic deposits, and ash. A companion volcano, Pomerape, is located across a low saddle to the north – this volcano last erupted during the Pleistocene Epoch (extending from approximately 3 million to 12,000 years ago). The summits of both volcanoes are covered by white permanent snowpack and small glaciers. Together, the two volcanoes form the Nevados de Payachata volcanic area.
Eruptive activity at Parinacota has directly influenced development of the local landscape beyond the emplacement of volcanic deposits – approximately 8,000 years ago the western flank of the volcano collapsed, creating a debris avalanche that traveled 22 km to the west. This debris avalanche blocked drainages, leading to the formation of Lake Chungará to the south (just visible at the lower left of this view). The uneven, hummocky surface of the debris avalanche deposit provides ample catchments for water, as evidenced by the numerous small ponds and Cotacotani Lake to the west.