This article is about the mountain range in South America.
For other uses, see Andes (disambiguation).
|Peak||Aconcagua, Las Heras Department, Mendoza, Argentina|
|Elevation||6,961 m (22,838 ft)|
|Length||7,000 km (4,300 mi)|
|Width||500 km (310 mi)|
|Native name||Anti (Quechua)|
The Andes, Andes Mountains or Andean Mountains (Spanish: Cordillera de los Andes) are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America.
Along their length, the Andes are split into several ranges, separated by intermediate depressions.
The Andes Mountains are the highest mountain range outside Asia.
The highest mountain outside Asia, Argentina's Mount Aconcagua, rises to an elevation of about 6,961 m (22,838 ft) above sea level.
The Andes are also part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.
The etymology of the word Andes has been debated.
The term cordillera comes from the Spanish word cordel, meaning "rope", and is used as a descriptive name for several contiguous sections of the Andes, as well as the entire Andean range, and the combined mountain chain along the western part of the North and South American continents.
The Andes can be divided into three sections:
- The Southern Andes: in Argentina and Chile, south of Llullaillaco.
- The Central Andes: in Peru and Bolivia.
- The Northern Andes: in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. In the northern part of the Andes, the separate Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range is often treated as part of the Northern Andes.
The Leeward Antilles islands Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, which lie in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela, were formerly thought to represent the submerged peaks of the extreme northern edge of the Andes range, but ongoing geological studies indicate that such a simplification does not do justice to the complex tectonic boundary between the South American and Caribbean plates.
The Andes are a Mesozoic–Tertiary orogenic belt of mountains along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a zone of volcanic activity that encompasses the Pacific rim of the Americas as well as the Asia-Pacific region.
It is the result of a convergent plate boundary between the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate.
To the east, the Andes range is bounded by several sedimentary basins, such as Orinoco, Amazon Basin, Madre de Dios and Gran Chaco, that separate the Andes from the ancient cratons in eastern South America.
In the south, the Andes share a long boundary with the former Patagonia Terrane.
From a geographical approach, the Andes are considered to have their western boundaries marked by the appearance of coastal lowlands and a less rugged topography.
The Andes Mountains also contain large quantities of iron ore located in many mountains within the range.
The Andean orogen has a series of bends or oroclines.
The Bolivian Orocline is a seaward concave bending in the coast of South America and the Andes Mountains at about 18° S. At this point, the orientation of the Andes turns from Northwest in Peru to South in Chile and Argentina.
The Andean segment north and south of the Orocline have been rotated 15° to 20° counter clockwise and clockwise respectively.
The specific point at 18° S where the coastline bends is known as the "Arica Elbow".
Further south lies the Maipo Orocline a more subtle Orocline between 30° S and 38°S with a seaward-concave break in trend at 33° S. Near the southern tip of the Andes lies the Patagonian Orocline.
Main article: Andean orogeny
The western rim of the South American Plate has been the place of several pre-Andean orogenies since at least the late Proterozoic and early Paleozoic, when several terranes and microcontinents collided and amalgamated with the ancient cratons of eastern South America, by then the South American part of Gondwana.
The development continued through the Jurassic Period.
The rise of the Andes has not been constant, as different regions have had different degrees of tectonic stress, uplift, and erosion.
Tectonic forces above the subduction zone along the entire west coast of South America where the Nazca Plate and a part of the Antarctic Plate are sliding beneath the South American Plate continue to produce an ongoing orogenic event resulting in minor to major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to this day.
The regions immediately east of the Andes experience a series of changes resulting from the Andean orogeny.
Further south in southern Patagonia the onset of the Andean orogeny caused the Magallanes Basin to evolve from being an extensional back-arc basin in the Mesozoic to being a compressional foreland basin in the Cenozoic.
Main article: Andean Volcanic Belt
The Andes range has many active volcanoes distributed in four volcanic zones separated by areas of inactivity.
The Andean volcanism is a result of subduction of the Nazca Plate and Antarctic Plate underneath the South American Plate.
The belt is subdivided into four main volcanic zones that are separated from each other by volcanic gaps.
The volcanoes of the belt are diverse in terms of activity style, products and morphology.
While some differences can be explained by which volcanic zone a volcano belongs to, there are significant differences inside volcanic zones and even between neighbouring volcanoes.
Despite being a type location for calc-alkalic and subduction volcanism, the Andean Volcanic Belt has a large range of volcano-tectonic settings, such as rift systems and extensional zones, transpressional faults, subduction of mid-ocean ridges and seamount chains apart from a large range of crustal thicknesses and magma ascent paths, and different amount of crustal assimilations.
Ore deposits and evaporates
The porphyry mineralization further benefited from the dry climate that let them largely out of the disturbing actions of meteoric water.
The dry climate in the central western Andes has also led to the creation of extensive saltpeter deposits which were extensively mined until the invention of synthetic nitrates.
Climate and hydrology
The climate in the Andes varies greatly depending on latitude, altitude, and proximity to the sea.
Temperature, atmospheric pressure and humidity decrease in higher elevations.
The southern section is rainy and cool, the central section is dry.
The northern Andes are typically rainy and warm, with an average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F) in Colombia.
The climate is known to change drastically in rather short distances.
The mountains have a large effect on the temperatures of nearby areas.
The snow line depends on the location.
It is at between 4,500 and 4,800 m (14,764 and 15,748 ft) in the tropical Ecuadorian, Colombian, Venezuelan, and northern Peruvian Andes, rising to 4,800–5,200 m (15,748–17,060 ft) in the drier mountains of southern Peru south to northern Chile south to about 30°S before descending to 4,500 m (14,760 ft) on Aconcagua at 32°S, 2,000 m (6,600 ft) at 40°S, 500 m (1,640 ft) at 50°S, and only 300 m (980 ft) in Tierra del Fuego at 55°S; from 50°S, several of the larger glaciers descend to sea level.
Though precipitation increases with the height, there are semiarid conditions in the nearly 7,000-metre (23,000 ft) highest mountains of the Andes.
This dry steppe climate is considered to be typical of the subtropical position at 32–34° S. The valley bottoms have no woods, just dwarf scrub.
The largest glaciers, as e.g. the Plomo glacier and the Horcones glaciers, do not even reach 10 km (6.2 mi) in length and have an only insignificant ice thickness.
At glacial times, however, c. 20,000 years ago, the glaciers were over ten times longer.
On the east side of this section of the Mendozina Andes, they flowed down to 2,060 m (6,760 ft) and on the west side to about 1,220 m (4,000 ft) above sea level.
The massifs of Cerro Aconcagua (6,961 m (22,838 ft)), Cerro Tupungato (6,550 m (21,490 ft)) and Nevado Juncal (6,110 m (20,050 ft)) are tens of kilometres away from each other and were connected by a joint ice stream network.
The Andes' dendritic glacier arms, i.e. components of valley glaciers, were up to 112.5 km (69.9 mi) long, over 1,250 m (4,100 ft) thick and overspanned a vertical distance of 5,150 m (16,900 ft).
The climatic glacier snowline (ELA) was lowered from 4,600 m (15,100 ft) to 3,200 m (10,500 ft) at glacial times.
Opposite of the humid Andean slopes are the relatively dry Andean slopes in most of western Peru, Chile and Argentina.
The high-altitude Polylepis forests and woodlands are found in the Andean areas of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
These trees, by locals referred to as Queñua, Yagual and other names, can be found at altitudes of 4,500 m (14,760 ft) above sea level.
It remains unclear if the patchy distribution of these forests and woodlands is natural, or the result of clearing which began during the Incan period.
Main article: Fauna of the Andes
The diversity of animals in the Andes is high, with almost 600 species of mammals (13% endemic), more than 1,700 species of birds (about 1/3 endemic), more than 600 species of reptile (about 45% endemic), and almost 400 species of fish (about 1/3 endemic).
Other animals found in the relatively open habitats of the high Andes include the huemul, cougar, foxes in the genus Pseudalopex, and, for birds, certain species of tinamous (notably members of the genus Nothoprocta), Andean goose, giant coot, flamingos (mainly associated with hypersaline lakes), lesser rhea, Andean flicker, diademed sandpiper-plover, miners, sierra-finches and diuca-finches.
A few species of hummingbirds, notably some hillstars, can be seen at altitudes above 4,000 m (13,100 ft), but far higher diversities can be found at lower altitudes, especially in the humid Andean forests ("cloud forests") growing on slopes in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and far northwestern Argentina.
These forest-types, which includes the Yungas and parts of the Chocó, are very rich in flora and fauna, although few large mammals exist, exceptions being the threatened mountain tapir, spectacled bear and yellow-tailed woolly monkey.
Birds of humid Andean forests include mountain-toucans, quetzals and the Andean cock-of-the-rock, while mixed species flocks dominated by tanagers and furnariids commonly are seen – in contrast to several vocal but typically cryptic species of wrens, tapaculos and antpittas.
Main article: List of mountains in the Andes
This list contains some of the major peaks in the Andes mountain range.
The highest peak is Aconcagua of Argentina (see below).
See also: List of mountains in Argentina
- Aconcagua, 6,961 m (22,838 ft)
- Cerro Bonete, 6,759 m (22,175 ft)
- Galán, 5,912 m (19,396 ft)
- Mercedario, 6,720 m (22,047 ft)
- Pissis, 6,795 m (22,293 ft)
Border between Argentina and Chile
See also: Argentina–Chile border
- Cerro Bayo, 5,401 m (17,720 ft)
- Cerro Fitz Roy, 3,375 m (11,073 ft) or 3,405 m, Patagonia, also known as Cerro Chaltén
- Cerro Escorial, 5,447 m (17,871 ft)
- Cordón del Azufre, 5,463 m (17,923 ft)
- Falso Azufre, 5,890 m (19,324 ft)
- Incahuasi, 6,620 m (21,719 ft)
- Lastarria, 5,697 m (18,691 ft)
- Llullaillaco, 6,739 m (22,110 ft)
- Maipo, 5,264 m (17,270 ft)
- Marmolejo, 6,110 m (20,046 ft)
- Ojos del Salado, 6,893 m (22,615 ft)
- Olca, 5,407 m (17,740 ft)
- Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas, 6,127 m (20,102 ft)
- Socompa, 6,051 m (19,852 ft)
- Nevado Tres Cruces, 6,749 m (22,142 ft) (south summit) (III Region)
- Tronador, 3,491 m (11,453 ft)
- Tupungato, 6,570 m (21,555 ft)
- Nacimiento, 6,492 m (21,299 ft)
- Janq'u Uma, 6,427 m (21,086 ft)
- Cabaraya, 5,860 m (19,226 ft)
- Chacaltaya, 5,422 m (17,789 ft)
- Wayna Potosí, 6,088 m (19,974 ft)
- Illampu, 6,368 m (20,892 ft)
- Illimani, 6,438 m (21,122 ft)
- Laram Q'awa, 5,182 m (17,001 ft)
- Macizo de Pacuni, 5,400 m (17,720 ft)
- Nevado Anallajsi, 5,750 m (18,865 ft)
- Nevado Sajama, 6,542 m (21,463 ft)
- Patilla Pata, 5,300 m (17,390 ft)
- Tata Sabaya, 5,430 m (17,815 ft)
Border between Bolivia and Chile
- Acotango, 6,052 m (19,856 ft)
- Michincha, 5,305 m (17,405 ft)
- Iru Phutunqu, 5,163 m (16,939 ft)
- Licancabur, 5,920 m (19,423 ft)
- Olca, 5,407 m (17,740 ft)
- Parinacota, 6,348 m (20,827 ft)
- Paruma, 5,420 m (17,782 ft)
- Pomerape, 6,282 m (20,610 ft)
Main article: List of mountains in Chile
- Monte San Valentin, 4,058 m (13,314 ft)
- Cerro Paine Grande, 2,884 m (9,462 ft)
- Cerro Macá, c.2,300 m (7,546 ft)
- Monte Darwin, c.2,500 m (8,202 ft)
- Volcan Hudson, c.1,900 m (6,234 ft)
- Cerro Castillo Dynevor, c.1,100 m (3,609 ft)
- Mount Tarn, c.825 m (2,707 ft)
- Polleras, c.5,993 m (19,662 ft)
- Acamarachi, c.6,046 m (19,836 ft)
- Nevado del Huila, 5,365 m (17,602 ft)
- Nevado del Ruiz, 5,321 m (17,457 ft)
- Nevado del Tolima, 5,205 m (17,077 ft)
- Pico Pan de Azúcar, 5,200 m (17,060 ft)
- Ritacuba Negro, 5,320 m (17,454 ft)
- Nevado del Cumbal, 4,764 m (15,630 ft)
- Cerro Negro de Mayasquer, 4,445 m (14,583 ft)
- Ritacuba Blanco, 5,410 m (17,749 ft)
- Nevado del Quindío, 5,215 m (17,110 ft)
- Puracé, 4,655 m (15,272 ft)
- Santa Isabel, 4,955 m (16,257 ft)
- Doña Juana, 4,150 m (13,615 ft)
- Galeras, 4,276 m (14,029 ft)
- Azufral. 4,070 m (13,353 ft)
- Antisana, 5,752 m (18,871 ft)
- Cayambe, 5,790 m (18,996 ft)
- Chiles, 4,723 m (15,495 ft)
- Chimborazo, 6,268 m (20,564 ft)
- Corazón, 4,790 m (15,715 ft)
- Cotopaxi, 5,897 m (19,347 ft)
- El Altar, 5,320 m (17,454 ft)
- Illiniza, 5,248 m (17,218 ft)
- Pichincha, 4,784 m (15,696 ft)
- Quilotoa, 3,914 m (12,841 ft)
- Reventador, 3,562 m (11,686 ft)
- Sangay, 5,230 m (17,159 ft)
- Tungurahua, 5,023 m (16,480 ft)
- Alpamayo, 5,947 m (19,511 ft)
- Artesonraju, 6,025 m (19,767 ft)
- Carnicero, 5,960 m (19,554 ft)
- Chumpe, 6,106 m (20,033 ft)
- Coropuna, 6,377 m (20,922 ft)
- El Misti, 5,822 m (19,101 ft)
- El Toro, 5,830 m (19,127 ft)
- Huandoy, 6,395 m (20,981 ft)
- Huascarán, 6,768 m (22,205 ft)
- Jirishanca, 6,094 m (19,993 ft)
- Pumasillo, 5,991 m (19,656 ft)
- Rasac, 6,040 m (19,816 ft)
- Rondoy, 5,870 m (19,259 ft)
- Sarapo, 6,127 m (20,102 ft)
- Salcantay, 6,271 m (20,574 ft)
- Seria Norte, 5,860 m (19,226 ft)
- Siula Grande, 6,344 m (20,814 ft)
- Huaytapallana, 5,557 m (18,232 ft)
- Yerupaja, 6,635 m (21,768 ft)
- Yerupaja Chico, 6,089 m (19,977 ft)
- Pico Bolívar, 4,978 m (16,332 ft)
- Pico Humboldt, 4,940 m (16,207 ft)
- Pico Bonpland, 4,880 m (16,010 ft)
- Pico La Concha, 4,920 m (16,142 ft)
- Pico Piedras Blancas, 4,740 m (15,551 ft)
- Pico El Águila, 4,180 m (13,714 ft)
- Pico El Toro 4,729 m (15,515 ft)
- Pico El León 4,740 m (15,551 ft)
- Pico Mucuñuque 4,609 m (15,121 ft)
- Andean Geology—a scientific journal
- Andesite line
- Apu (god)
- Cordillera Mountains in the Philippines
- List of mountain ranges
- List of longest mountain chains on Earth
- Mountain Passes of the Andes
- Rocky Mountains
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andes.