A rapid rise for the Andes | Science News

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A rapid rise for the Andes

New evidence points to a sudden and dramatic growth spurt for the South American mountain chain

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1:14pm, June 5, 2008

South America’s Andes reached their staggering heights after a sudden growth spurt millions of years ago, not gradually as many studies have proposed, new evidence suggests.

The central part of the Andes, one of the world’s longest and tallest mountain chains, is home to some of the Earth’s thickest crust: In spots, the crust extends to depths of 70 kilometers (SN: 1/15/05, p. 45). Previous studies have suggested that the slow, steady collision between two tectonic plates — the Nazca Plate, made of dense oceanic crust, and the South American plate of lighter, continental crust — crumpled the crust and gradually lifted th

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