High in the Andes Mountains, the archaeological site of Moray holds many mysteries. Starting with natural sinkholes, Inca builders lined a set of huge circular depressions with concentric terraces. Constructing Moray required tremendous engineering skill and thousands of hours of construction efforts, so why was it built?
The Incas were accomplished engineers who built long-lasting structures, from Machu Pichu on a ridgetop to the Inca Road system along the spine of the Andes Mountains. A sculpted landscape masterpiece that is less well known is a set of large circular depressions lined with concentric rings of stone-lined terraces. Named Moray and located on a high plain about 20 miles northwest of Cusco, these circles began as deep natural sinkholes with unstable slopes at the angle of repose.
Geysers, with hot water and steam welling up from deep underground, are mysterious clues to what lies beneath. Yellowstone National Park includes about half of all geysers found on Earth. The Andes Mountains contain a major geyser field, named El Tatio, in northern Chile......I recently dug around for more information about geysers – and I found some that was new news to me and, I think, quite interesting.
The dramatic landscape of Yellowstone National Park, including exploding geysers, bubbling mud volcanoes, and rainbow-colored lakes, all provide hints of the dynamic geologic history of the region. Yellowstone is one of the Earth’s largest volcanic systems, and earthquakes, ground surface movements, and hydrothermal activity in the region are all indications of this volcanism.
Maize (aka corn) was considered a sacred plant by the Inca, Tiwanaku, Moche and many other ancient Andean cultures. In the Andes Mountains, for millennia the principal use of this plant has been to make an alcoholic beverage called chicha. This beverage was so important to the social and economic functioning of ancient Andean societies that when there was a major disruption in the flow of maize, it helped to trigger the collapse of at least one society that had flourished for hundreds of years.
Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel high on a ridge in the Andes Mountains, is one of the most impressive and widely recognized archaeological sites on Earth. Since I am fascinated by this spectacular place, I’ve written about it in several blog posts. In a new article I’ve focused on the geology – and this is posted on a website called "GondwanaTalks".
Nevada encompasses an enormous variety of rock, mineral, and geomorphic features. Many aspects of this geology can be seen along Highway 50, which extends from west to east .... and is also known as “The Loneliest Road in America” (doubling its appeal, IMO!). On a recent trip while camping at remote sites (social distancing!), I explored along a western section of this highway....
The Inca, Tiwanaku, Moche, Chavín, and many other indigenous Andean cultures used a variety of plant-based drugs – including hallucinogens and narcotics -- in their religious rituals. When the ancient people ingested what they considered to be sacred plants, access to a separate realm – a supernatural world – could be reliably achieved.
The beauty of Mt Rainier masks the fact that it is also an active volcano with a high probability of erupting again in the not-too-distant future....Recently I came across a fascinating blog post called "The Penitentes of Mt Rainier" on a blog site called Volcano Café (https://www.volcanocafe.org/).
A huge volcano erupted violently about 760,000 years ago on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, forming a large depression called the Long Valley Caldera. This “super-eruption” was estimated to be more than 2,000 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mt St Helens...Today, the Mammoth Lakes resort area is on the western edge of the ancient caldera.