El fin del mundo—the end of the world! Only the southern tip of South America dares poke its head south into the 40-55° latitudes where the planet’s strongest winds—the West Wind Drift—drive the planet’s strongest current—the Circum-Antarctic Current. In this wind-swept part of the world, the stark yet stunning landscapes take their character from a base of amalgamated crustal blocks that have been covered with sediments, intruded by magma, and carved by wind, water and, most spectacularly, ice. Today, 20,000 years after the Last Glacial Maximum, a continental ice sheet continues to shove more than 40 glaciers out onto the flat lands of Chile and Argentina. Active volcanoes continue to spew their ash into the air, and marine critters ply the nutrient-rich coastal waters.
My goal is to explore these fantastic landscapes and to provide you, the reader, with a taste of their beauty and the geologic underpinnings that have created them. The time will be during the Austral summer, from 18 January to 7 March 2012. After leaving Buenos Aires, the journey will extend south along the Atlantic coast of Patagonia, from Peninsula Valdéz to Santa Cruz, where in 1834 Darwin navigated an inland river and observed a terraced landscape recently uplifted from the sea. After a week in Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) Patagonian explorations will continue northward along the eastern side of the Andes, from El Calafate and Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (including famous climbing mountains Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy) to Bariloche in the Lake District.
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