According to a new discovery, Diego de Almagro Island off the southwest tip of Chile could hold clues to the perplexing mystery of how our world came to be.
A team of researchers from the French Centre Terre association, a mix of scientists, cavers, and experts from France and Chile, have stumbled upon a series of caves on this island at the edge of the Earth that they believe could help answer questions about how the continents formed.
“You can make models of areas where the continents broke off and this could be one of those spots,” explained speleologist Natalia Morata, a member of the ongoing research team.
Located about 93 miles southwest from Puerto Natales, getting to the 20 limestone caves was no easy feat. The team had to abseil and scuba dive to investigate them, some of which are over 160 feet deep. The hard work to get to the bottom of these caves is worth it, however, as the researchers have found wall paintings and bone fragments likely left by the indigenous Kawesqar people of the area that could be crucial for dating purposes.
“For there to be this kind of rock here, which is only found in more temperate zones, means there are sure to be a lot of keys here which is like a treasure trove that we have to decipher to understand the evolution of the planet, of the continued climate changes there have been,” said Morata.
The international team still has much work to do, exploring the caves and surrounding area to piece together the clues about what our world may have looked like long ago. Just one third of the area has been searched, and so the researchers are hopeful that still more is waiting to be found.
Chile has become a hotbed of discovery recently. With the uncovering of giant fossils in the south of the country that help demonstrate an ancient link to Antarctica, the solving the mystery of a massive whale graveyard in what is now the Atacama Desert — the driest place on Earth — Chile appears to hold many important clues for those looking to understand the history of our planet.