Nevado Tres Cruces National Park (Chile)

Nevado Tres Cruces National Park (Chile)

Fri, 08/27/2021 - 18:49

Nevado Tres Cruces National Park is located in the Atacama Region of Chile and includes Laguna Santa Rosa, Laguna del Negro Francisco and a part of the Salar de Maricunga. The park is named after the Nevado Tres Cruces massif which dominates the landscape of the area.

Nevado Tres Cruces National Park

Nevado Tres Cruces National Park is located in the Atacama Region of Chile, east of the city of Copiapó. Encompassing 59,100 ha (146,000 acres), the park includes Laguna Santa Rosa, Laguna del Negro Francisco and a part of the Salar de Maricunga.

The park is named after the Nevado Tres Cruces massif; which while not actually located within the park, dominates the landscape of the area.

The National Park is divided into two zones:

  • Northern zone: encompassing the southern portion of Salar de Maricunga and Laguna Santa Rosa

  • Southern zone: encompassing the Laguna del Negro Francisco

The Salar de Maricunga is a salt flat that is located at an altitude of 3,700 m (12,139 ft). The Laguna Santa Rosa, located just to its south, is known for its Andean flamingos which reside year-round. Both are Ramsar Wetlands.

Laguna del Negro Francisco is located at 4,126 m (13,537 ft) asl and is encircled by Andes foothills. It hosts an abundance of flamingos and vicuñas.

Situated within the Dry Andes climatic region, the area of the National Park lies within the Southern Andean steppe, a high elevation montane grasslands and shrublands ecoregion. Average annual temperatures range between 3 and 19 °C (37 and 66 °F). Lows can reach 5 °C (41 °F) in summer and -15 °C (5 °F) in winter.

Ecosystems that include puna grasslands, wetlands and arid slopes allow for a diversity of flora and fauna. There are around 65 plant species and 77 animal species common to the area, of which about 62 are birds, 11 are mammals and 4 are reptiles.

Nevado Tres Cruces

Nevado Tres Cruces is a massif that straddles the border between the Catamarca Province of Argentina and the Atacama Region of Chile, within the Andes Mountains. The international road, Paso de San Francisco, crosses the border just to its north.

The volcano is massive, covering an area of about 1,000 sq km (390 sq mi), consisting of a 10 km- (6.2 mi-) long and 5 km- (3.1 mi-) wide north-south trending chain made up of at least three overlapping volcanoes.

The three main summits, all of which are of volcanic origin are, in descending order of height:

  • Tres Cruces Sur at 6,748 m (22,139 ft) asl

  • Tres Cruces Centro at 6,629 m (21,749 ft) asl

  • Tres Cruces Norte at 6,206 m (20,361 ft) asl

A number of lava domes surround the mountain complex and craters are located on its summits. The main volcano, whose last eruption was approximately 28,000 years ago, is of rhyodacitic composition. However, the volcano is a candidate source for a Holocene eruption and it may become active in the future.