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History of mining - Atacama Region, Chile

Scientific discoveries

Mining 1830 - 1920
W. Griem, 2017
Ammonite de Burmeister
Spirifer de Darwin

Modelo de Chañarcillo de Henwood

 Introduction to mining history 1830 - 1920

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But not only technical progress is important. Great successes have also been achieved in the scientific field:

Scientific discoveries between 1830 and 1920:

The natural sciences succeeded in this time a veritable avalanche of new discoveries and new knowledge. The sciences in general were in a state of radical change throughout this period. Mainly one moved away from a mostly descriptive science into an analyzing and modern science. Now models were designed (and discarded), theories developed and more complex contexts were discussed.  

Many scientists have now also used the opportunity to travel to other areas to gain new insights. South America was a particularly interesting target in biology and geology and, of course, in the social sciences. This "new" continent offered the early scientists a great opportunity to identify new species, fossils or minerals, for example. Not only was the new always interesting:  Also the analogy of discoveries with European specimens was also of scientific interest.

Especially the English researchers such as LEYELL (1830: LEYELL Ch. Principles of Geology) and DARWIN: 1831-36 Darwin's expedition to South America. 1859 he published "On the Origin of Species" which is based on his research from previous years. 1871 Darwin publishes "The Descent of Man".    

In 1873 Dana describes the Geosynclinal theory: An attempt to explain the geology of mountain formation in a universal model. He also ends the belief that mountains were created by catastrophic processes.

In 1897 Marie Curie describes large parts of the phenomenon of radioactivity. Rutherford first succeeded in 1905 in carrying out an absolute age dating, which resulted in an earth age of more than 2 g. a. (2 billion) years. It should be noted that the vast majority of geoscientists had assumed that the values at that time were considerably lower. Einstein discovered the theory of relativity (E= m X c2) in 1905.

Alfred Wegener published the Continental Drift Theory in 1912. This never found great affection in its time. But sixty years later, the old geosynclinal theory was superseded.

In Chile, especially in the Atacama region, the presence of some world-renowned scientists of that time should be emphasized. Especially DARWIN, DOMEYKO, PHILIPPI and GAY visited the region to get new impulses for their research. Not so well known scientists such as HENWOOD (Geology of the Chañarcillo deposit) and many others also show a lively scientific activity in this region.


Literature and Links
Bibliographical reference

Muy interesante:
Historia de la ciencia "Timeline" (en inglés) - excelente!


DARWIN, CH. (1876): Geological observations on the volcanic islands and parts of South America visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. - 2. Edition,  Smith,  Elder & Co.; London.

Henwood, W.J. (1871):  On the Mining District of Chañarcillo in Chili. - Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall; 8:1, pp. 169-153.

Simonin (1867): La Vie Souterraine Du Les Mines et les Mineures" (Paris 1867)

Mining Atacama
History of Atacama


History of mining 1830-1920
Intro epoch 1830-1920
Technical innovations
Scientific innovations
Social conscience
Educational impulse
Mine safety
Records of the period::
Gilliss: Apires and barreteros
Work conditions of miners
Los Mineros (Tornero 1872)
Apires y barreteros - Tornero

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General Geology:
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Historical sketches mining
Chapter "History of Geology"
Historia de las geociencias
Mining history of Atacama
Mining from 1830 to 1920
List of minig districts of Atacama

Mining in Atacama
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Paul Treutler in Atacama
Charles Darwin, Atacama (1835)
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Gilliss Mineros en Chañarcillo

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Mining history of Atacama, Chile
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Published: 7.10.2017; updated: 7.10.2017, 15.7.2018
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