Parinacota Volcano in the Chile-Bolivia border region, South America is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 29 crew member on the International Space Station. Volcan Parinacota ("flamingo lake" in the regional Aymara language) is a potentially active stratovolcano located on the Altiplano, a high plateau situated within the Andes Mountains of west-central South America. While no direct observations of eruptive activity are recorded, surface exposure age-dating of lava flows suggests that activity occurred as recently as 290 AD approximately 300 years, according to scientists. Local Aymara stories also suggest that the volcano has erupted during the past 1,000 years. This detailed photograph highlights the symmetrical cone of Parinacota, with its well-developed summit crater (elevation 6,348 meters above sea level) at center. Dark brown to dark gray surfaces to the east and west of the summit include lava flows, pyroclastic deposits, and ash. A companion volcano, Pomerape, is located across a low saddle to the north — scientists believe this volcano last erupted during the Pleistocene Epoch (extending from approximately 3 million to 12,000 years ago). The summits of both volcanoes are covered by white permanent snowpack and small glaciers. Together, the two volcanoes form the Nevados de Payachata volcanic area. Eruptive activity at Parinacota has directly influenced development of the local landscape beyond the emplacement of volcanic deposits — approximately 8,000 years ago the western flank of the volcano collapsed, creating a debris avalanche that traveled 22 kilometers to the west. This debris avalanche blocked drainages, leading to the formation of Lake Chungara to the south (upper right). The uneven, hummocky surface of the debris avalanche deposit provides ample catchments for water, as evidenced by the numerous small ponds and Cotacotani Lake to the west.
Image credit: NASA
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