Marine Geology Program


To generate geological information of the ocean ground, insular territories, and Antarctic, in accordance with the SERNAGEOMIN mission, which in its second article, fifth paragraph states "To promote, coordinate, encourage, and carry out submarine geology studies and research prone to the knowledge of mineral resources contained in the marine depths."


Generar información en diferentes formatos, particularmente en la forma de mapas geológicos y mapas geológico-geomorfológicos de islas oceánicas, junto a publicaciones científicas y bases de datos temáticas.


In the first phase, the elaboration of geological maps, on a scale of 1:50,000 of the oceanic islands: (1) Robinson Crusoe and (2) Easter Island are considered. In a complementary manner, the progressive elaboration of a validated scientific information databases.


Chile possess a large extension of continental or oceanic islands adjacent submarine territory whose geological knowledge is still scarce. Indeed, this is an international level reality for only 5% of the oceanic ground which has been mapped with high resolution. This low knowledge of the submarine relief implies an almost complete lack of knowledge of the geological foundation of this territory, including depth marine ground as much as the submarine platforms and seamounts. The scarcity of this information hinders the display of national strategies on conservation and/or utilization of resources and closing this gap is one of the priorities of the National Oceanic Policy of Chile, as well as one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The submarine territory is diverse and constitutes the almost continuous record of the geological processes that have proceeded for millions of years. On its surface accumulated sediments that also host forms of life adapted to those conditions, include high strategic value mineral resources. Seamounts, all from volcanic origin, are particularly important for the complex ecosystem maintenance that benefits from the vertical gradient. They host other types of mineral resources and play a central role in marine circulation and ocean-atmospheric exchange. The continental platforms are fundamental as an extension of the emerged lands and constitute an invaluable record of multiple geological processes. Therefore, marine geology is a transversal discipline in which critical application information in diverse areas is generated, even beyond Earth sciences.


The achievement of objectives in marine geology and geophysics fields requires hard access resources and infrastructure. To strengthen development in this line of work, research projects are performed with external financing, among which we find initiatives to access the national oceanographic vessel financed by the ANID (ex CONICYT) and Fondecyt projects from the same agency. Among the latter, two Regular Fondecyt projects have been executed: "‘Nazca Intraplate Volcanism: Geochronology, magmatic evolution, and geodynamics of Juan Fernandez Ridge (2011-2013)" and ‘‘Volcanism on Nazca Plate: Plumes and plate tectonic processes (2014-2017)", both with Dr. Luis E. Lara as main researcher. Currently, this professional is also a sponsoring researcher of the Fondecyt Post-PhD project "Geomorphology of the Chilean Volcanic Oceanic Islands and Seamounts (VOIS): Improving the understanding on their origin, evolution and potential hazards (2018-2021)" in charge of Dr. Laura Becerril. She has vast experience in the volcanism study of the Canary Islands and through this initiative she has joined as a postdoctoral fellow in the marine geology area. This project in development aims to understand the control mechanisms of the geomorphological evolution of the Chilean oceanic islands, and, in particular, to estimate its long-term erosion rates. The latter is a necessary background to establish vertical movement patterns, whose nature is closely related to mantle processes that simultaneously control the volcanism, and submarine and/or oceanic islands volcanic construction and destruction processes.

Some of the scientific publications related to these projects are:

Becerril, L.; Lara, L.E.; Astudillo, V. (2020). The strong competition between growth and erosive processes on the Juan Fernández Archipelago (SE Pacific, Chile). Geomorphology. Aceptado.

Lara, L.E.; Moreno, R.; Valdivia, V.; Aramguiz, R.; Lagos, M. (2020). The AD1835 eruption at Robinson Crusoe Island discredited: geological and historical evidence. Progress in Physical Geography.

Reyes, J., Lara, L.E., Hauff, F., Hoernle, K., Morata, D., Selles, D., Cooper, O. 2019. Petrogenesis of shield volcanism from the Juan Fernández Ridge, Southeast Pacific: Melting of a low-temperature pyroxenite-bearing mantle plume. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

Lara, L.E.; Reyes, J.; Jicha, B.; Díaz-Naveas, J. 2018. 40Ar/39Ar Geochronological Constraints on the Age Progression Along the Juan Fernández Ridge, SE

Lara; L.E.; Díaz-Naveas, J.; Reyes, J.; Jicha, B.; Orozco, G.; Tassara, A.; Kay, S. 2018. Unraveling short-lived rejuvenated volcanism and a rapid transition from shield stage at O’Higgins Guyot, Juan Fernández Ridge, Pacific SE. Deep Sea Research Part I.