Ethnogeology in Amazonia: Surface-water systems in the Colombian Amazon, from perspectives of Uitoto traditional knowledge and mainstream hydrology

Sandra Carolina Londono, Cristina Garzon, Elizabeth Brandt, Steven Semken, Vicente Makuritofe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Ethnogeology, the scientifi c study of geological knowledge of groups such as indigenous peoples, can be combined with mainstream geological sciences to enhance our understanding of Earth systems. The Amazon rain forest has been extensively studied by both mainstream scientists and indigenous researchers. We argue that knowledge of Amazonian geology and hydrology held by indigenous Uitoto experts is valid, empirically based, and, in many cases, more nuanced than mainstream scientifi c knowledge. We also argue that knowledge sharing between mainstream and indigenous researchers can improve geological and environmental knowledge on both sides and provide solutions for current environmental problems such as increased pressure on water resources and global warming. We applied methods from ethnography and earth science to examine the traditional ecological knowledge of an Amazonian tribe in Colombia, the Uitoto, about water, and how that knowledge correlates with that of mainstream earth scientists. The study demonstrates how ethnogeology can be applied in a waterrich environment to: (1) compare knowledge about the natural history of an area, (2) study the geological resources available and their uses, and (3) examine the bases of native classifi cation schemes using mainstream science methods. We found parallels and complementary concepts in the two bodies of knowledge. Our results suggest that the Uitoto have a meticulous taxonomy for water and wetlands\-knowledge that is essential for protecting, conserving, and managing their water resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGeoscience for the Public Good and Global Development
Subtitle of host publicationToward a Sustainable Future
EditorsJeffrey K. Greenberg, Gregory R. Wessel
PublisherGeological Society of America
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780813725208
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
ISSN (Print)0072-1077

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ethnogeology in Amazonia: Surface-water systems in the Colombian Amazon, from perspectives of Uitoto traditional knowledge and mainstream hydrology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this