The field occurrences, elemental compositions and formation ages of Colombian and Ecuadorian obsidians are revisited. It is shown that the regional sources of this raw material are linked to two major volcanic structures: the Chacana and the Paletara calderas, localised on the eastern cordillera of Ecuador and on the central Andean cordillera of south Colombia respectively. Seventy-two samples were analysed by inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES), inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and/or particle induced X-ray emission (PIXE). The same 10 types of elemental compositions were identified independently from ICP and PIXE. Four of these types were previously unknown. The formation ages of these obsidians previously determined by fission tracks dating are in the range 0.17–1.58Ma at Chacana and 3.46–4.27Ma at Paletara. Most Colombian and Ecuadorian pre-Hispanic artefacts present elemental compositions compatible with a Chacana- or Paletara-derived origin of the raw material. However, some of them present fission track ages discordant with the present-day known obsidian occurrences, which implies that the regional source inventory is not yet exhaustive.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.