The Driest Desert on Earth, Atacama Desert Chile Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth. Pin It

The Driest Desert on Earth, Atacama Desert Chile

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The Atacama Desert Chile (in Spanish: Desierto de Atacama) is a plateau covering 1,000 kilometers in N-S direction from Peru’s southern border into Chile in South America. The desert is narrow and elongated with a width of only 100 kilometers.

The driest desert on Earth

Atacama desert Peru is considered to be the driest place on Earth and is classified as a hot desert. The world’s driest cold desert is Antarctica.

Why is Atacama so dry

The reason for the very dry conditions is the specific place between the high peaks of Andes, which shadows for rain showers forced by the west going wind system. The cold ocean current along offshore the west coast of South America also affects the weather conditions. The cold water often induces fog which tend to move inland moisturizer leaves and vegetation. This sparse moisture from fog is actually the main reason for that life is possible in the Atacama desert. One of the biggest animal in the desert is the llama which is endemic to South America. It is assumed that there are spots where rain never has been recorded. A natural result of the low annual rainfall is a very low human population and the flora as well as fauna is very sparse.

Read also: Gobi desert – The land of great climate extremes

Atacama Geysers: Tatio Geyser

In the Atacama Desert in an altitude of 4,320 meters you will also find some impressive geysers of Taito Geyser which means the “Grandfather”. Taito Geyser is actually one of the world’s largest geysers and among the highest-elevation geyser fields in the world. Thus, it is major Chilean tourist attractions. El Tatio consists of 80 geysers. The visitors mainly visit the Tatio geyser at sunrise where the geothermal activity is greatest. Tatio Geyser is truly a must-see destination when traveling to Atacama Desert Chile.

Largest Copper Mine in the World

The Atacama desert Chile occupies 105,000 square kilometers composed mostly of salt lakes, sand, and felsic lava that flows towards the Andes. The arid climate results in a high concentration of minerals in the area. The desert offers many mineral resources including copper and sodium. The largest copper mine in the world named Chuquicamata is located in Atacama in an altitude of 3,000 meters. A copper mineral, atacamite, is named after the desert.

Read also: Salar de Uyuni – World’s Largest Salt Flat

Chilean mine accident

Another mine in Atacama desert is the Copiapó mine, which is a gold and cobber mine. Back in 2010, a major accident happened in this mine. Due to tectonic movements in the subsurface the mine collapsed and as a result 33 mining workers were captured approximately 700 meters below the surface. Miraculously, they all survived 69 days within the mine which is a world record.

Hunting Meteorites

In Atacama Desert Chile, the composition of the sand is very similar to the sand found on Mars. Therefore, Atacama is an important site for scientists who want to simulated the physical conditions on Mars. The scientists are also interested in the huge meteor crater of Monturaqui, which has a diameter of 370 meter. More than 25 different types of iron meteorites have been found in Atacama. Due to the arid climate conditions and the common exploration geology, Atacama desert Chile is a favorable site for hunting meteorites.

Read also: The inaccessible monastery complex of Meteora

Atacama Desert Photos

Atacama Desert Chile

Large sand dunes and ripples, Atacama Desert Chile.

Atacama Desert salt lake

Big salt lake and salt deposits in Atacama Desert.

El Tatio Geyser Field

El Tatio Geyser Field, Atacama Desert, Chile.

Monturaqui Crater Atacama

Monturaqui Crater, Atacama Desert.

Chile Atacama Desert

Llama in the Atacama Desert.

Atacama Desert location on map

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