The President's Page: Solid-Earth geophysics in Latin America



Because of their topography, the regular occurrence of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions within their boundaries, and their location around the geomagnetic equator, the Andean countries have long been of worldwide interest to geophysicists. In earlier years most of the studies of the region were carried out by U.S. geophysicists, local scientists having only a minor role. The situation has changed, and now Andean geophysicists can operate independently or as partners in major undertakings. This new circumstance is of sufficient significance to merit examination of its origins and development.

One factor has been the influence of major international programs, including the International Geophysical Year (IGY), the International Upper Mantle Program (IUMP), and the International Geodynamics Project. The IGY in 1957 stimulated geoscientists to go to the area. U.S. participation in the IUMP led to research activities that in turn fostered development of critical capabilities among geoscientists of the region through education and active participation in research and also led to a recognition on the part of these scientists of their common problems. The meeting in 1970 in Buenos Aires promoted by the IUMP provided one of the first international forums at which the extent of the collaboration and the development of geophysical ‘muscle’ among our Latin American neighbors was made evident.