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Topography of South America
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Topography of South America

June 28, 2003
This image of South America was generated with data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). For this broad view the resolution of the data was first reduced to 30 arcseconds (about 928 meters north-south but variable east-west), matching the best previously existing global digital topographic data set called GTOPO30. The data were then resampled to a Mercator projection with approximately square pixels (about one kilometer, or 0.6 miles, on each side). Even at this decreased resolution the variety of landforms comprising the South American continent is readily apparent.

Topographic relief in South America is dominated by the Andes Mountains, which extend all along the Pacific Coast. These mountains are created primarily by the convergence of the Nazca and South American tectonic plates. The Nazca Plate, which underlies the eastern Pacific Ocean, slides under western South America resulting in crustal thickening, uplift, and volcanism. Another zone of plate conver



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