Its name is a portrait of its shape, teeth emerging on the Patagonian land, agreeing with the old cartographers who recorded, mapped, and described fearful of this remote, unexplored land. Hic sunt dracones (dragons lie here), they used to say. An appropriate description for this sharp, rocky landscape.
Today we do not think of it as dragons, but as the majestic landmark of the extraordinary setting of southern Tierra del Fuego. An impenetrable, rocky, saw, only admirable from Estancia Caleta María.
878 meter high and 17 kilometres long, Sierra Dientes del Dragon sharply interrupts the Seno Almirantazgo, a branch of the ocean which threatens to occupy the Fagnano Lake, and eventually, fragment Tierra del Fuego into two islands. There is nothing random about this configuration of the landscape: it is a result of the strenuous scalping work of the most active geological fault in Chile: the Magallanes-Fagnano Fault.
This fault comprises the boundary between the South American and Scotia tectonic plates. Both plates travel continuously and in opposite motion, year after year the distance between them increases by seven millimetres. Perhaps a modest distance for the human timeframe, though twenty million years of slow and steady wandering have now accumulated kilometres of displacement.
The scenery responds to the intense, incessant movement taking place at this plate’s boundary, whose abrasion imprints the surface, configures the territory, and shapes the landscape.
Glaciers and rivers find their lining through the surface where the territory offers the least resistance, water and ice are lead through areas weakened and deformed by the fault. Valleys, fjords, lakes, and mountain belts are shaped after the erosion guided by the fault. The outline and orientation of these features, all parallel to the fault, are the surface imprint of the penetrating action occurring deep into the Earth.