Set of voluptuous craters that germinated from the extensive and infinite pampa, in the middle of the desert steppe of the Patagonian continent.
This volcanic rocky cluster sheltered the pedestrian ancestors of the Paleoindian for thousands of years. Those who, through a nomadic life, traversed a pampa that constantly confronted them with its inhospitable side, but who nevertheless were able to find shelter in this volcanic oasis.
Not satisfied with the volcanic shelter, the Aónikenk called it Pali Aike: Desolate Place, of evil spirits. Despite this, this desolate place gave them a temporary home, a shelter in the open and in our days a Paleo-Indian vestige, a deep and rounded landscape of the memory of survival and in part a landscape intervened by modern man to turn it into an explorable and touristic landscape.
You will see them in the Pali Aike National Park, 196 km northeast of Punta Arenas.
This peculiar landscape is a volcanic field, its dark, rough rocks called basalts emerged directly from the depths of the Earth. There, dozens of kilometres deep below the surface, pressure and heat are such that rock remains semi molten, flowing slow and mouldable.
Although for the ephemeral human point of view the tectonic plate configuration seems stable and suspended in time, this is not the case for the planet timescale. The South American plate delimitates to the west with the Nazca plate, and with the Antarctic plate to the south.
The limit between the Nazca and Antarctic plates, both oceanic, is called Chile Ridge, a place where new basaltic rocks are being born every instant, emerging from the depth, and cooling down in contact with ocean water, building new oceanic crust.
These newly created plate then sinks below the continent; the open wound carrying heat with it and generating volcanism on the continent. Pali Aike is the relic of the moment, sixteen million years ago, when that boundary between plates was kilometres south of its current position, at 53°S.
Liquid lavas emerged from this endless source during successive volcanic eruptions. One after the other they built this inhospitable landscape, its darkness contrasting to the arid steppe.
The ephemeral window towards the bowels of the Earth closed some thousands of years ago; Pali Aike lost its lava source. Volcanic activity terminated but its landscape remained, monument of lively and ardent period. The dark basalts are witness and relic of the ancient window, a discrete exhibition of the Earth interior.