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The study area covers the Tambo river basin which spans the territory of more then 20 000 square kilometers on the south-east boundary of the Department of Arequipa (Arequipa Province) and the north-western part of the Department of Moquegua (Mariscal Nieto and Sánchez Cerro Provinces). It is situated therefore in the historical and geographical region of Costa Extremo Sur. The terrain is typical of the so called Valles Occidentales (Western Valleys), i.e. basins, located in the South Peru, through which the waters pass in their descent from the western slopes of the Andes towards the Pacific. The division between the mountain area sierra and the coastal zone litoral is clearly denoted here. The mountain topography is characterized by deep valleys, canyons and ravines, cutting through the mountain ranges, while on the desertic coast the basin of the river is reduced to the proper Tambo valley, forming a wide oasis surrounded by the sands of the northern boundary of the Atacama desert.

The Tambo river itself is about 250 kilometers long and crosses all the mountain floors of the Andes (Puna, Jalca, Quechua, Yunga and Litoral) to drain into the Pacific near the town of Punta de Bombón. The river is formed 4000 m above sea level where a small watercourse called Jucumarini flows from a lake of the same name. At the confluence with the Quebrada Challhuani it takes the name of Río Cruzero which in its lower course changes its name to Ichu.a and at the confluence with the Río Paltuture, near Yunga, its takes name of Río Tambo.

In the upper course of the Tambo, the valley is deep, V-shaped and with very steep sides; the banks of the river are suitable for human settlement only in a few places. The climatic conditions here are largely dependent on the elevation.

In the middle course of Río Tambo the landscape is desertic. This is because the river becomes salty as it receives some saline waters from geysers situated on the borders or within the stream channel itself.

In the lower course, the Tambo River receives some freshwater tributaires and the valley widens considerably forming extensive fluvial terraces used by the local population for cultivation.

It has to be stressed that the whole basin of the Tambo, as well as other territories of South Peru, are zones of high seismic and volcanic activity. Its destructive power is witnessed by the presence of damages and layers (up to a few meters thick) composed by volcanic ashes and pumice from the last, relatively recent, eruption of Huaynaputina in 1600. Moreover, it bears mentioning that ashes from the Huaynaputina volcano are also identifiable in glacial masses from the North and Central Andes, as well as in silty sediments at the bottom of the Nicaragua Lake in Central America.


Aktualizacja strony: 12.06.2010 :: Copyright (c) Instytut Archeologii 2010 :: e-mail