The Andean Cordillera is the spinal column of Chile. Apart from being the division wall between nations it is a climate screen that shelters and confines the weather to those who inhabit its western face.
The Andes are also part of the cultural vision of our society, a symbol of identity that carries environmental and patrimonial responsibilities. For those who live on its faces the Cordillera can be an inhabitable landscape, for others who aim to conquer its peaks it is an explorable landscape, but for many it remains a distant landscape, admirable from afar.
We highlight though its role as a memory landscape, a landmark of our territory that has served as inspiration for painters, musicians, and poets, who are the creators and perpetrators of Andean culture.
The beauty of mountains also lies in the active role they play to preserve the delicate balance of the Earth. Isostacy is the principle of mass balance of the Earth’s crust. For balance to be maintained, each elevation of topography, every mountain, must possess a deep, invisible, root that compensates for the excess of mass rising above sea level.
Just like the iceberg that emerges above the sea is only the tip of what lies submerged, the mountains that we see are the cusp of a great mass that extends into the depths of the Earth. The Andes not only extend wide and above, but also hold deep roots below our feet, which sustain them while maintaining the sensitive balance of the Earth’s lithosphere.
Earth is a dynamic system, constantly shifting and adapting. The only constant is balance: each alteration needs to be compensated to restore equilibrium. Isostacy is no exception: if a mountain losses mass, it will have to rise to compensate the loss.
Until only ten thousand years ago, massive amounts of ice of up to one kilometre thick covered the surface of the Andes. The melting and retreat of glaciers caused a significant mass loss, which the Andes had to compensate by uplifting to restore balance. They continue to do so in the present, rising approximately one centimetre every year.