The Geological Research on the Isthmus of Panama (GRIP) project is an integrative, field-based study of the geology of the Panama Isthmus and northern South America to reconstruct its tectonic, volcanic and palaeogeographic evolution since Cretaceous times (for the past 115 million years). The project is led by a group of researchers at Cardiff University (UK), with invaluable help from an international network of collaborators. The study officially started in January 2016 with the support of the National Geographic Society to conduct geological exploration in eastern Panama and western Colombia. However, our approach builds upon several decades of experience of our group and collaborators in the geology of Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador. Our approach is integrative and benefits from the expertise of our members in geological mapping in the tropical environment, volcanology, sedimentology, igneous petrology, geochemistry, paleontology, and structural geology. This expertise and our on-going research are also used to help solve problems of societal and economical relevance in partnership with organizations in Panama and Colombia.
Why do we care about the geology and formation of Panama?
In short, because our world would certainly be very different if the Panama Isthmus had not formed. The Pacific and Atlantic oceans would not have been separated by a land bridge, allowing vast quantities of water to flow between the Americas, and probably impeding establishment of the climate as we know it today. In addition, terrestrial fauna in North and South Americas would still be isolated, without possibility to easily migrate from one continent to another; this is a situation in stark contrast to the ecosystems as we know them today in the Americas. Understanding how and when the Isthmus of Panama has formed is therefore of large, multidisciplinary significance. Look at our approach and blog to learn more about the geology of Panama and some of the challenges that await us.
[Last update: 21.10.2017]