Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Patagonian Patter


Today’s entry focuses on current topics in southernmost Patagonia, on both the Argentine and Chilean sides.
Calafate Rumbles
Large parts of Chile and Argentina, mostly along the northern and central Andes, are seismically active, as I experienced myself earlier this year. As a California resident, that doesn’t necessarily unnerve me, but it’s a little unusual to hear of strong seismic movements in southernmost Patagonia, where the popular destination of El Calafate has experienced several quakes over the past month or so, most recently on Sunday.
After reading of this, I got in touch with my cousin Elisa Rodríguez for a first hand report from her house on the heights overlooking Lago Argentino (pictured above, in the construction stage). She told me that Sunday’s quake “was the only one we felt at home, but the other three shook almost all of Calafate. Last night’s was a violent shake with two booms, like explosions, which according to Seba [Elisa’s husband] was the cracking of the walls. No seismic station registered the quakes, since there is none in Santa Cruz province, but not in Mendoza or Tierra del Fuego either, where there are stations, from which we suspect that these are superficial and local. Puerto Natales [Chile] is experiencing the same phenomenon; one hypothesis is that a volcano in the Southern Patagonian Icefield, Volcán Reclus, about 100 km from either town, is becoming active. A Chilean expedition will visit the area in September to check it out.”

That’s about all the information I could find - not even the US Geological Survey’s earthquake page has registered any movements in the area over the past several days. The Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program entry says that Volcán Reclus last erupted about a century ago.

The Winds of Marathon
Next month, the Nómadas International Group will sponsor the initial Patagonian International Marathon in Chile’s Torres del Paine. Working in tandem with the NGO Reforestemos Patagonia, the event will publicize the need to importance of restoring the park’s natural woodlands after a devastating fire last summer. Prospective participants may also choose to compete in a half marathon or ten kilometers.
Patagonia in general, and Paine in particular, could offer real challenges and opportunities to distance runners. Early spring, when the event will take place, is one of the windiest times of the year. When I lived in the Falkland Islands, where wind conditions are similar, I used to run a mile and a half every morning on the then new road toward Mount Pleasant Airport and, against the wind, it would take me about 20 minutes; the return, with the strong wind at my back, would take barely half that, and I sometimes had to slow myself to avoid falling. Depending on the individual participants, the exact route, and the winds of the day, a Paine marathon could produce some interesting times – though the wind velocities would probably invalidate any records.

Tango by the River
There’s been a change in schedule. I will still give a digital slide lecture on Buenos Aires at Tango by the River in Sacramento, but it has been postponed until Friday, September 21st, at 6 p.m.
Limited to a maximum of 50 people, the event will also include tango performances; admission costs $10, or $8 in advance. I have spoken here several times before, and we always sell out, so plan in advance. Signed copies of my Moon Handbooks on Argentina, Buenos Aires, Chile and Patagonia will be available at discount prices.

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