Aconcagua mountain, known as the “roof” of America, has a new official height of 6,980.8 meters (22,822 feet), a measurement slightly higher than it had more than 50 years ago, researchers said Monday.
The official altitude of Aconcagua was previously considered to be 6,959.6 meters (22,818 feet), according to measurements taken by University of Buenos Aires scientists in 1956.
The new height “cannot be compared” to the previous one because “the technology used for the measurement is totally different,” Argentine National Geographic Institute, or IGN, scientist Sergio Cimbaro told Efe.
“We can’t say that the mountain increased in height because the measurement technologies cannot be compared. On the other hand, we will be able to compare the height from now on thanks to the installation during the expedition of a GPS (global positioning system) on the peak,” Cimbaro said.
This system will permit “a more detailed monitoring of the Andes mountains,” the backbone of South America, the result of colliding tectonic plates that undergo gradual changes, particularly with the earthquakes of the past few decades, such as Chile suffered in 2010, Cimbaro said.
Cimbaro was one of the experts who in February took part in a major expedition to establish the height of the so-called “roof of America.”
The expedition, sponsored by IGN and the Sigma project of the National Council on Scientific and Technical Research, or Conicet, had as its goal the measurement of the height of the mountain by means of gravity studies, which differ from the GPS method that includes no reference to sea level.
The experts carried out tasks of tracking glaciers and tectonic plates and had to face “extreme” acclimatization problems from a height upwards of 4,500 meters (14,750 feet).
Not all the members of the expedition managed to reach the summit, however, including Cimbaro, who had to go back down because of a “peripheral edema.”