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Geologic Survey in the Pampas

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Author: Mike Cook.

Between June 9 and June 18, 2018, our team visited the Pampas region north of Quebrada Jaguay. Our original goal was to locate the extent of the outcrops providing the petrified wood found in sites such as Quebrada Jaguay, Cuncaicha, Pucuncho, Carbun Ruan, and Cerro Ruano in Pampa Colorada. What we found was an entire lithic landscape tucked into the magnificent, barren desert, with natural cobles and worked artifacts of chalcedony, jasper, chert, and the desired petrified wood. Our survey was a complete success: we mapped seven new sites and collected over 90 raw material samples across the project area. These data will be used to model raw material source extents in the un-surveyed areas. Geologic hand specimens we collected will be compared to the artifacts from sites throughout the region to better understand inter-zonal connections and material movements of some of the earliest inhabitants of South America.

Beyond achieving our academic goals, this survey was just a blast. We had such wonderful adventures, such as digging a road out from under a sand dune, 20-mile survey days, visiting Los Atolladeros (translated to “bog” or “quagmire”, which turned out to be a dune field), and Kurt conjuring the rain. We were fraught with misadventures, too: pitch-black hikes with no lights, almost getting the truck stuck in unexpected volcanic ash, a tent blowing away, and getting completely turned around when hiking back to camp at night. But we all came through it with smiling faces and an experience that none of us are soon to forget

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