Saturday, 3 June: Departure
Fights connect through Dallas, Miami, LAX, and New York, with connections from all major U.S. airports. Departures from the U.S. gateways are in the evening and arrive in Santiago the next morning.
Sunday, 4 June: Connect in Santiago to Copiapó; night in Bahia Inglesa
(Participants who wish to spend an additional day or days in Santiago, the Chilean capital, may depart the U.S. one or more days early. We can offer help in choice of hotels in Santiago. Transfers from the airport into the city take ~45 minutes, with shuttle bus service costing <$10 OW (taxis higher). Numerous activities are available in Santiago, and ski resorts 1.5-2.5 hours outside of the city will be in full operation.)
All participants should schedule flights to Copiapó on LAN 326 arriving at 1:30 p.m. The faculty will arrive one or more days early and meet the group at the airport. We will collect the baggage and drive to Bahia Inglesa. After stowing baggage at the cabins, we will drive south for 2-3 field stops to discuss the tectonic framework of the Andes and the local geological setting. Dinner tonight will be provided and will be cooked by the faculty and will include an introduction to local beverages.
Monday, 5 June: Bahia Inglesa to Bahia Copiapó; night in Bahia Inglesa
After breakfast, we will work our way to the south. The first stop will be a hike to the coast near Playa Cisne, where rugged granitic bedrock is overlain by Neogene sediments, which are in turn truncated by a regional angular unconformity and covered by a later generation of sediments, all of which are faulted and carved by recent erosion. Farther to the south, we will hike inland across the lagoon of the Rio Copiapó (mosquito repellent recommended) to a broad section of Neogene sediments, as yet undescribed. Later in the afternoon, we have permission to enter the Phosphate mine at Rocas Negras to collect fossil materials. This is a remarkably rich site for collection of Miocene- to Pliocene-age shark teeth and marine vertebrate bones.
Tuesday, 6 June: Caldera to Antofagasta; night in Antofagasta
Following breakfast at the cabins, we depart for points to the north, traveling partly along the Panamerican Highway and along the “Roca Roja” route through the Chilean Coastal Cordillera. Stops en route will include petroglyphs along the coast north of Caldera, discussion of the environmental impacts of copper mining at the town of Chañaral, Pan de Azucar National Park, Paranal Observatory, Mirador de Escondida. If time permits upon arrival in Antofagasta, we will tour the Geological Museum at the Universidad Catolica and/or the ruins of Huanchaca. The night will be in either the Hotel Antofagasta or the Holiday Inn Express, both modern hotels on the waterfront within walking distance of both the center of Antofagasta, where shopping for local silver and lapis lazuli is possible.
Wednesday, 7 June: Tiburon Basin; Herradura; Mejillones Peninsula; night in town of Mejillones
Following breakfast at our hotel, we depart northward for several remote field stops on and around the Mejillones Peninsula. We will drive to the Tiburon Basin, a Pliocene basin that rose rapidly from deep marine conditions and diatomite deposition up to sea level following initiation of rupture on the Mejillones fault. We will then (attempt to) find the track to the Herradura coastal section where several hundred meters of section are exposed along the tall modern sea cliff. This section also is cut by the Herradura fault, a sharp scarp that offsets Pleistocene coastal terraces. The final stop today will be at Punta Angamos, one of the finest sequences of coastal terraces in the world, which step up from the modern terrace at the coast up to Pliocene levels at the crest of the peninsula, and include several paleo-islands, the margins of which are now mined for “guanite”. The night will be spent at the Hotel Mejillones, in the town of the same name, where several restaurants are famous for their fresh-caught seafood options.
Thursday, 8 June: Mejillones to San Pedro de Atacama via the “Camino de la Sal”
Following breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for the drive to Calama and then, in the evening, on to San Pedro de Atacama. Stops along the road will include the copper mine at Mantos Blancos and/or the Oficina Chacabuco. The Atacama region is famous for its “Oficinas,” nitrate mines that were homes to hundreds of thousands of Chileans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, now completely abandoned. Chacabuco achieved further infamy as a concentration camp following the military coup in Chile in 1973. Continuing onward, the drive will follow the rugged “Salt Trail”, with stops in the Colonial-era town of Toconao and culminating in the sunset views at Chaxa Lagoon in the Salar de Atacama. After a long (but spectacular) day of driving, we will pull into the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Until 10-15 years ago, San Pedro was a remote and primitive outpost, but it has since been “discovered” and now serves as the gateway for adventure travel in the high Andes. Accommodations will be in the Hosteria San Pedro or similar and will include a swimming pool.
Friday, 9 June: Geysers del Tatio; night in San Pedro
Starting early, we will climb to 4300 m (> 14,000 ft) to visit the Geysers del Tatio where, if conditions permit, the group will swim. This hydrothermal system is fed by glacial meltwater that is heated by the shallow magma chamber beneath. This location provides a remarkable vista of the high Andes, the 5500 m-high volcano above San Pedro, and opportunities to meet native animals such as the vicuña and guanaco. Following the geysers, we will stop at the Puritama thermal springs. In the afternoon, we will hike in the Valles de la Luna (Valleys of the Moon), where erosion and evaporite deposition have carved the volcanic and sedimentary substrate into dramatic landforms.
Saturday, 10 June: San Pedro area, morning
Optional Activities: A range of outdoor and adventure activities are offered by local outfitters in San Pedro de Atacama, ranging from mountain biking to helicopter tours (Additional costs as indicated below).
- Optional Activity 1: Horseback riding (Additional $50):
Rancho Cactus (www.rancho-cactus.cl/) offers 2-hours tours in the neighborhood of San Pedro.
- Optional Activity 2: Mountain biking (Additional $20):
Rent a mountain bike and take off on your own this morning to explore the area surrounding San Pedro. The rental agency has maps and suggested routes.
- Optional Activity 3: Helicopter tour of the salar and volcanoes of the high Andes:
Helicopter rental is available and an unparalleled way to see this country. If you’re interested, let us know early so we can get a price quote, but expect us to be very jealous!
For those not participating in one of the optional activities above, we will offer a trip to an Inca Tambo (trade station) and pre-Columbian cemetery located ~20 minutes north of San Pedro. The small site has been partially excavated (including work by Prof. Pinter 20 years ago) but remains undocumented and unvisited. Alternatively, field trip participants may prefer to spend the morning relaxing by the hotel swimming poll or shopping the native market in San Pedro.
Afternoon: Following lunch, the group will tour the archeological museum of San Pedro, with its collection of pre-Columbian artifacts and mummified human remains. Following the museum, the group will drive from San Pedro to Chuquicamata, which is one of the largest copper mines in the world, where we will tour the mining operations. The mine consists of two major pits, the larger of which is 4300 meters long, 3000 meters wide, and 750 meters deep.
Transfer from Chuquicamata to Calama airport; depart Calama for home (via LAN flight 353 at 6:00 p.m.); transfer in Santiago. Arrivals in the U.S. on Sunday, 11 June.
Round-trip airfare from the U.S. arriving in Copiapó, Chile and departing from Calama, Chile is not included in the program cost. Please schedule your flights to arrive in Copiapó (CPO) on LAN flight 326 on Sunday, 22 May 2005 at 1:30 p.m. and fly out of Calama (CAL) on LAN flight 353 on Saturday, 28 May 2005 departing at 6:00 p.m., unless you are planning to spend time on your own in Chile before or after the trip. LAN is a partner of American Airlines (OneWorld Alliance), and the Chilean flights are most economical if purchased in conjunction with an American ticket or as part of a package ticket offered by Orbitz or Expedia or other on-line sites. Student fares may be available through www.studentuniverse.com or other sources. Please send us your flight itinerary once you have booked it. Emergency contact numbers in Chile will be provided in case of flight delays or missed connections.
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