Stone blocks at Machu Picchu are 250-million-years-old

Peruvian geologists date stone blocks used in Machu Picchu’s construction to 250-million-years-old. The study’s co-author and geo-scientific director at the Geological Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (INGEMMET), Víctor Carlotto, told Agencia Andina the stones were formed three to six miles below the earths crust.

“Through the process of uplifting in the Andes, the rocks reached the surface as fractured granites. Over thousands of years they were formed into ‘chaos blocks’,” which were unstable and difficult to work with, said Carlotto. Thousands of people, using terraces and platforms, were needed to move the blocks in order to construct buildings and the drainage system.

Machu Picchu is a symbol of national pride and a major tourist attraction in Peru. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics, 76,000 people visited the site in August 2007.

Geologists from the Distaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University in Japan caused a stir in 2002 when they warned that Machu Picchu could slide off its mountaintop perch in a landslide. But according to Carlotto, there is no evidence a major landslide could destroy the archaeological site. Carlotto told Agencia Andina that studies in the area ¨show there are landslides, but they are small and don’t represent any danger¨

Machu Picchu was constructed in the 15th century during the height of the Inca Empire and abandoned after Spanish colonization. In 1983, it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and in July 2007 it was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

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