DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5027/andgeoV47n2-3131

Analysis of the deterioration and restoration processes in the natural monument Puente del Inca, Central Andes, province of Mendoza, Argentina

Esteban Lannutti, María Gabriela Lenzano, Jorge Barón, Marcelo Durand, Luis Lenzano

Abstract


The Puente del Inca, next to the homonymous village, is a natural bridge located on the Cuevas River, at about 2,700 m above sea level in the Central Andes of the province of Mendoza, Argentina. Declared Provincial Natural Monument in 2005, since the beginning of the 20th century it has registered a continuous weakening, mainly related to erosive processes that cause detachments of part of the material that makes up its structure. The objective of this study is to determine the factors involved in the structural regression and restitution of the natural bridge. To achieve this, visual inspection, characterization of thermal springs, measurement of accretion-erosion rate of travertine deposits, testing of materials and the development of a structural numerical model by the Finite Element Method, were carried out. Results indicate that the deterioration is linked, mainly, with changes in the geobiological system that regulates the travertine deposition and to the heterogeneous structure of the bridge. Changes of the geobiological system are related to the activity of the thermal waters present in the area, whose discontinuity and/or fluctuations in the flow rate are influenced by both natural and anthropogenic factors. The heterogeneity of the structure conditions the stability of the monument due to the presence of a less resistant material in the lower part of the bridge arch. From the numerical simulation, safety factors between 1.5 and 3 were determined for the bridge, thus, we conclude the structure is stable against its own weight, as long as the bridge maintains the current conditions.

Keywords


Travertine bridge; Geobiological system; Puente del Inca

How to cite this article Lannutti, E.; Lenzano, M.; Barón, J.; Durand, M.; Lenzano, L. 2020, Analysis of the deterioration and restoration processes in the natural monument Puente del Inca, Central Andes, province of Mendoza, Argentina. Andean Geology 47 (2): 446-465. [doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5027/andgeoV47n2-3131]