Last updated
Volcan Incahuasi.jpg
Incahuasi volcano as seen from route 60, Fiambala, Argentina
Highest point
Elevation 6,621 or 6,638 m (21,722 or 21,778 ft) [1] [2]
Prominence 1,518 m (4,980 ft) [1]
Listing Ultra
Coordinates 27°01′59″S68°17′46″W / 27.033°S 68.296°W / -27.033; -68.296 Coordinates: 27°01′59″S68°17′46″W / 27.033°S 68.296°W / -27.033; -68.296 [2]
Relief Map of Argentina.jpg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Location in Argentina, on the border with Chile
Location Catamarca, Argentina -
Atacama, Chile
Parent range Andes
Mountain type stratovolcanoes and caldera
Last eruption Unknown
First ascent 1913 by Walther Penck

Incahuasi (Spanish pronunciation:  [iŋkaˈwasi] ; possibly from Quechua: inka Inca, wasi house) [3] [4] is a volcanic mountain in the Andes of South America. It lies on the border of the Argentine province of Catamarca, and the Atacama Region of Chile. Incahuasi has a summit elevation of 6,621 metres (21,722 ft) above sea level.


The volcano consists of a 3.5-kilometre-wide (2.2 mi) caldera and two stratovolcanoes. Four pyroclastic cones are located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) to the north-east and produced basalt-andesite lava flows that cover an area of 10 square kilometres (4 sq mi). [5]

Geography and geology

Incahuasi lies on the border between Argentina and Chile, [2] close to Paso San Francisco. [6] A major road crosses the border there. [7]


Incahuasi is part of the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes together with about 110 other Quaternary volcanoes, and lies in the southern sector of the volcanic zone; [8] other volcanic zones in the Andes are the Northern Volcanic Zone, the Southern Volcanic Zone and the Austral Volcanic Zone. [9] The history of volcanic activity is poorly known for most of these volcanoes owing to the lack of dating; only a few historical eruptions have been recorded, such as an eruption at Ojos del Salado in 1993. [8]

Incahuasi is located northeast of Ojos del Salado, [2] the highest volcano in the world. [10] Both volcanoes are found at the southern end of the Central Volcanic Zone. [11] They together with El Fraile, Cerro El Muerto, Nevado Tres Cruces and El Solo form a 50 kilometres (31 mi) long volcanic chain. [12]

The area is dominated by volcanoes that were active after 1.5 million years ago. [13] Also located close to Incahuasi are Falso Azufre and Nevado San Francisco, [6] as well as the Miocene Cerro Morocho and Cerro Ojo de Las Lozas volcanoes. [14] It has been suggested that a perpendicular chain of volcanoes including Ojos del Salado may be the consequence of the Juan Fernandez Ridge subducting in the Peru-Chile Trench. [15]

Volcanism in the area goes back to the Oligocene and Miocene, when the main volcanic arc was located 40 kilometres (25 mi) west in the Maricunga Belt. Between 9 and 6 million years ago volcanic activity in the Maricunga Belt decreased and eventually ceased. Simultaneously, the back-arc experienced increased volcanic activity. [11]


Incahuasi is formed by a caldera 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) wide. Two coalesced stratovolcanoes formed within the caldera [2] and have a diameter of 15 kilometres (9.3 mi). [16] A 6 by 4 kilometres (3.7 mi × 2.5 mi) wide lava dome is located on the eastern flank. [16] The volcano has a volume of about 231 cubic kilometres (55 cu mi) [17] and covers a surface area of about 207 square kilometres (80 sq mi). [18] With a height of 6,621 metres (21,722 ft) Incahuasi is the 12th highest mountain in South America [19] and one of the world's highest volcanoes. [18]

Incahuasi has two craters, a summit crater and an arcuate crater on the eastern slope that contains a lava dome. [2] The summit crater has dimensions of 750 by 900 metres (2,460 ft × 2,950 ft) [16] and is embedded within a 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) high summit plateau. [14] Subsidiary vents conversely are associated with fissure vents. [20]

The western and southwestern slopes of Incahuasi are dotted with lava domes, [2] which are more subdued than on other volcanoes in the region. [21] Less than 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) wide and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long [16] lava flows extend down the volcano. [2] They reach the Las Coladas salar east of Incahuasi. [22] Two 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) long coulees extend north and east of the main crater. [16]

7 kilometres (4.3 mi) northeast of Incahuasi four pyroclastic cones can be found. They have covered 10 square kilometres (3.9 sq mi) with lava [2] but they are probably an independent volcanic system, similar to other regional mafic volcanoes. [23] On Incahuasi's eastern flank lies a major lava dome and a field of lava flows. [14] Incahuasi volcano rises over a surface with elevations of 4,300–4,700 metres (14,100–15,400 ft). [24]


Like many Andean volcanoes, Incahuasi has erupted andesite containing hornblende and pyroxene, [6] but also trachyandesite and trachydacite. [25] Lava flows on the main stratovolcano are dacitic. [2]

The four cones northeast of the principal volcano have erupted basaltic andesite. [2] Likewise, parasitic cones have erupted magnesium-rich basaltic andesite. [26] Minerals contained in these rocks include clinopyroxene and olivine. [6]

The occurrence of such basic magmas in a volcanic setting dominated by dacites appears to be a consequence of local tectonics, which involve the extension of the crust compared to the compressional regime farther west. [13] Originating in the mantle, the magmas quickly ascended in faults and were contaminated by crustal material. [6] The mantle itself had been modified before by crustal material added by delamination of the lower crust and subduction erosion. [27]


Incahuasi does not have glaciers, [24] but it does have at least temporary snowpack. [2] Even the crater does not support the development of glaciers. [28]

Average precipitation at Incahuasi is about 300–500 millimetres per year (12–20 in/year). The volcano lies south of the so-called "Arid Diagonal", and most precipitation falls during winter. [24] This aridity is caused by the rain shadow effect of the Subandean Ranges, which block moisture from the Atlantic Ocean. [29]

Eruptive history

One andesitic lava flow on the northwestern slope of Incahuasi has yielded two ages, one of 1.15 ± 0.5 million years ago and another of 710,000 ± 80,000 years ago. [30] Based on their preservations, the lava flows appear to be of roughly comparable ages. [16] Additional ages were obtained on the main edifice, 1.57 ± 0.1 million years ago, 1.14 ± 0.37 million years ago and 1.00 ± 0.13 million years ago. [31]

Parasitic cones were active over 500,000 years ago. [26] These include the lava dome and lava flow fields (760,000 ± 90,000 and 740,000 ± 50,000 years ago respectively) and a lava flow from the pyroclastic cones, which has been dated to 350,000 ± 30,000 years ago. [31]

Volcanic activity at Incahuasi may have continued into the Holocene, considering the young appearance of its eruption products [2] such as lava flows in the summit region and on the southern slopes; the old ages obtained by radiometric dating indicate an extinct volcano although activity at Andean volcanoes is known to occur with long rest phases between eruptions (reaching one million years). [23] There are reports of fumarolic activity. The volcano is considered a potential geological hazard to Argentina [32] and Chile, where the SERNAGEOMIN hazard maps identify it as a potential threat. [33] The remoteness of the volcano means that future eruptions are unlikely to impact populated areas, however. [34]

Climbing history

The mountain was first climbed by Inca people. In 1912 Walter Penck climbed the mountain. Legend has it that a railway engineer named Edward Flint between 1854-1859 ascended the mountain. [35]


In 1913, an Inca ceremonial structure was found on the summit of Incahuasi. [19] Another archeological site "Fiambalá-1" lies at its foot. [36]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas mountain range

Sierra Nevada, also known as Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas, is a major ignimbrite-lava dome complex which lies in both Chile and Argentina in one of the most remote parts of the Central Andes. Activity in the complex started in Argentina and formed two stratovolcanoes. Later, 12 or more vents formed, some with craters up to 400 metres (1,300 ft) wide. Lava flows up to 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long with flow ridges are also found. It covers a total area of 225 km². Radiometric dating has yielded ages of 1.7 ± 0.4 to 0.431 ± 0.012 million years ago. Together with Cerro el Condor and Peinado it forms the Culampaja line, a line of volcanoes that reaches Cerro Blanco. Strong seismic attenuation is observed beneath Sierra Nevada. Hydrothermally altered rocks in Sierra Nevada may be the source of sulfate and As in the Juncalito and Negro rivers.

Ojos del Salado Miembro masculino

Nevado Ojos del Salado is an active stratovolcano in the Andes on the Argentina–Chile border and the highest active volcano in the world at 6,893 m (22,615 ft). It is also the second highest mountain in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere behind Aconcagua at approximately 7,000 meters and it is the highest in Chile. Nevado Ojos del Salado is translated to Snowy Salty Eyes describing it being very snowy in the winter and salty with many lakes.

Cerro El Cóndor stratovolcano

Cerro El Cóndor is a stratovolcano in Argentina.

Falso Azufre complex volcano at the border of Argentina and Chile

Falso Azufre is a complex volcano at the border of Argentina and Chile.

Tipas mountain in Argentina

Cerro Tipas is a massive complex volcano in the Andes, located in northwestern Argentina. It is just southwest of Ojos del Salado, the highest volcano in the world. Tipas itself is perhaps the third highest active volcano in the world, and it consists of stratovolcanoes, lava domes, and lava flows. Its summit is 6,668 metres (21,877 ft) above sea level and the complex covers a surface area of 25 square kilometres (9.7 sq mi). There are reports of fumarolic activity, and de Silva and Francis (1991) considered that the volcano was last active in the Holocene. The Tipas-Cerro Bayo complex was active 2.9-1.2 million years ago with dacites and rhyolites. Magma composition is typical for Andean stratovolcanoes. Tomographic studies of the underlying crust indicate a pattern of seismic attenuation beneath Tipas.

Nevado de Longaví mountain in Chile

Nevado de Longaví is a volcano in the Andes of central Chile. The 3,242 m (10,636 ft) high volcano lies in the Linares Province, which is part of the Maule Region. It features a summit crater and several parasitic vents. The volcano is constructed principally from lava flows. Two collapses of the edifice have carved collapse scars into the volcano, one on the eastern slope known as Lomas Limpias and another on the southwestern slope known as Los Bueye. The volcano features a glacier and the Achibueno and Blanco rivers originate on the mountain.

Nevado Tres Cruces mountain

Nevado Tres Cruces is a massif of volcanic origin in the Andes Mountains on the border of Argentina and Chile. It has two main summits, Tres Cruces Sur at 6,748 metres (22,139 ft) and Tres Cruces Centro at 6,629 m (21,749 ft) and a third more minor summit, Tres Cruces Norte 6,206 m (20,361 ft). Tres Cruces Sur is the sixth highest mountain in the Andes. The area was first surveyed in 1883 by Francisco San Román and the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park was established in 1994.

Nevado San Francisco mountain in Argentina

Nevado San Francisco, or Cerro San Francisco, is a stratovolcano on the border between Argentina and Chile, located just southeast of San Francisco Pass. It is considered extinct and is one of the several 6,000 m (19,700 ft) peaks in the area, of which the chief is the Ojos del Salado.

Los Patos mountain in Argentina

Los Patos is a mountain in the Andes mountain range of South America. The peak is located on the international border of the Catamarca Province of Argentina and the Atacama Region of Chile. It has a summit elevation of 6,239 metres (20,469 ft).


Incapillo is a Pleistocene caldera, a depression formed by the collapse of a volcano, in the La Rioja province of Argentina. Part of the Argentine Andes, it is considered the southernmost volcanic centre in the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes with Pleistocene activity. Incapillo is one of several ignimbritic or calderic systems that, along with 44 active stratovolcanoes, are part of the Central Volcanic Zone.

Jotabeche is a Miocene-Pliocene caldera in the Atacama Region of Chile. It is part of the volcanic Andes, more specifically of the extreme southern end of the Central Volcanic Zone (CVZ). This sector of the Andean Volcanic Belt contains about 44 volcanic centres and numerous more minor volcanic systems, as well as some caldera and ignimbrite systems. Jotabeche is located in a now inactive segment of the CVZ, the Maricunga Belt.

Laguna Amarga caldera in Catamarca Province, Argentina

Laguna Amarga is a caldera and associated ignimbrite in the Andes of northwestern Argentina.

Doña Ines is a volcano in Chile. It is a Miocene age stratovolcano which is formed from lava domes that form its summit area and nuee ardente deposits which form the flanks of the volcano.

Leon Muerto is a 4,799 metres (15,745 ft) high volcano in Chile.

Cerros Bravos-Barros Negros is a volcano in Chile.

Negro de Chorrillos is a volcano in the Andes.

Ojos de Maricunga is a volcano in the Maricunga Belt of Chile, in the Cordillera Domeyko.(Muñoz 1894, p. 51)

Pairique volcanic complex is a volcanic complex in the Jujuy Province, Argentina.

Pastillitos is a volcano in the Central Andes of Chile.

Wheelwright caldera is a caldera in Chile. It is variously described as being between 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) and 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide and lies in the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes. A lake lies within the caldera, which is among the largest of the Central Andes. The caldera lies in the region of Ojos del Salado, the world's tallest volcano.


  1. 1 2 "Argentina and Chile North: Ultra-Prominences" Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "Nevado de Incahuasi". Global Volcanism Program . Smithsonian Institution.
  3. Diccionario Quechua - Español - Quechua, Academía Mayor de la Lengua Quechua, Gobierno Regional Cusco, Cusco 2005 (Quechua-Spanish dictionary)
  4. Teofilo Laime Ajacopa, Diccionario Bilingüe Iskay simipi yuyayk'ancha, La Paz, 2007 (Quechua-Spanish dictionary)
  5. "Nevado de Incahuasi Volcano, Chile/Argentina | John Seach".
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Kay, Coira & Mpodozis 2008, p. 163.
  7. Gspurning, Lazar & Sulzer 2006, p. 60.
  8. 1 2 Grosse et al. 2018, p. 2.
  9. Grosse et al. 2018, p. 3.
  10. Gonzalez-Ferran, Baker & Rex 1985, p. 434.
  11. 1 2 Kay, Coira & Mpodozis 2008, p. 160.
  12. Kay, Mpodozis & Gardeweg 2014, p. 310.
  13. 1 2 Kay, Coira & Mpodozis 2008, p. 162.
  14. 1 2 3 Grosse et al. 2018, p. 11.
  15. Gonzalez-Ferran, Baker & Rex 1985, p. 425.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Grosse, P.; Orihashi, Y.; Guzman, S.; Petrinovic, I. (2014). "Volcanismo Cuaternario en la Zona del Paso San Francisco, Catamarca". (in Spanish).
  17. Aravena, Diego; Villalón, Ignacio; Sánchez, Pablo (April 2015). "Igneous Related Geothermal Resources in the Chilean Andes" (PDF). p. 5.
  18. 1 2 Grosse et al. 2018, p. 10.
  19. 1 2 Rundel & Kleier 2014, p. 3.
  20. Seggiaro, R. E.; Hongn, F. D. (1999-01-01). "Influencia tectónica en el volcanismo Cenozoico del Noroeste argentino". Acta Geológica Hispánica. 34 (2): 229. ISSN   2173-6537.
  21. Gonzalez-Ferran, Baker & Rex 1985, p. 436.
  22. Valero-Garcés et al. 2000, p. 345.
  23. 1 2 Grosse et al. 2018, p. 18.
  24. 1 2 3 Gspurning, Lazar & Sulzer 2006, p. 61.
  25. Grosse et al. 2018, p. 7.
  26. 1 2 Mpodozis, Constantino; Cornejo, Paula; Kay, Suzanne M.; Tittler, Andrew (1995-12-01). "La Franja de Maricunga: sintesis de la evolucion del Frente Volcanico Oligoceno-Mioceno de la zona sur de los Andes Centrales". Andean Geology (in Spanish). 22 (2): 308. ISSN   0718-7106.
  27. Kay, Mpodozis & Gardeweg 2014, p. 324.
  28. Gspurning, Lazar & Sulzer 2006, p. 63.
  29. Valero-Garcés et al. 2000, p. 344.
  30. Gonzalez-Ferran, Baker & Rex 1985, p. 435.
  31. 1 2 Grosse et al. 2018, p. 12.
  32. Perucca, Laura P.; Moreiras, Stella M. (2009-01-01). "Seismic and Volcanic Hazards in Argentina". In Latrubesse, Edgardo M. (ed.). Developments in Earth Surface Processes. Natural Hazards and Human-Exacerbated Disasters in Latin America. 13. Elsevier. p. 292. doi:10.1016/S0928-2025(08)10014-1. ISBN   9780444531179.
  33. "Peligros Volcanicos" (PDF). 2011. ISSN   0717-7305.
  34. Grosse et al. 2018, p. 19.
  35. Echevarria, Evelio (1987). "Early British Ascents in the Andes (1831-1946)" (PDF). Alpine Journal: 64–65.
  36. Orgaz, Martín; Ratto, Norma (3 July 2015). "Estrategias De Ocupacion Incaica Al Sur Del Tawantinsuyu (Tinogasta, Catamarca, Argentina): La Apropiacion De Paisajes Sagrados Y La Memoria Social". Ñawpa Pacha. 35 (2): 233. doi:10.1080/00776297.2015.1108125. ISSN   0077-6297.