Socompa

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Socompa is a 6051m-high dacitic stratovolcano lying in the Andes Mountain Range, in the province of Salta, on the border of Argentina and Chile. It is best known for its large debris avalanche deposit, which is widely accepted as the best-preserved example of this type of deposit in the world, and also notable as the home of the world's most elevated known microbial ecosystems.

The western rim of Socompa volcano is bounded by the Monturaqui Basin, which is draped with the aforementioned deposit. Escondida Mining currently has a network of roads throughout this area, from beneath which they pump ground water for use at the nearby copper mine. The southern margin of the deposit is bordered by the Antofagasta to Salta trans-Andean railway, although this is rarely used.

Socompa is difficult to reach - either from the north along dirt tracks south of the Miscanti Pass, or from the west via the Escondida copper mine. Both routes require a full-day's driving and for any reasonable amount of time to be spent at Socompa would need significant planning.