Eruptions, Mineralogy and Formation of Volcanic Soils

UACh Researchers: Susana Valle, Manuel Schilling, Hector Pesenti, Alejandra Zúñiga

Associated Researchers: Oscar Seguel (UChile)

The South Central area of ​​Chile presents an intense volcanic activity which allowed, in geological time scale, the development of soils that are characterised by unique properties that allow them to sustain the development of highly productive forestry and agricultural systems. However, volcanic eruptions in human time scale can have harmful side effects on the agri-food chain (e.g. fluorine contamination) and at ecosystem level, altering the development of native vegetation on a recurring basis and affecting ecosystem services (water storage, plant composition, microbial diversity, among others). Therefore, it is important to study the characteristics of volcanic materials produced in the Andes and its relationship with the subsequent formation and composition of these soils, in order to establish sustainable criteria for agriculture and forestry management, since soils are constantly evolving (rejuvenation) due to the addition of new pyroclastic material, which is also modified by its interaction with the vegetation colonising it.

This line of research (RL-1) seeks to assess the origin, formation and development processes and the relationship between the crystallochemical properties (mineralogical), with the physical, chemical and biological quality of soils of volcanic origin. The objectives of RL-1 will be achieved through projects implemented by researchers that are part of the nucleus and the incorporation of new research proposals seeking to integrate different disciplines (Geology, Engineering, Physiology, Ecology and Agronomy) with the use of new methodologies.