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Mar Chiquita: Central Argentina’s “Little Sea”

September 29th, 2009 Category: Lakes

Argentina - July 28th, 2009

Argentina - July 28th, 2009

The blue and green body of water here, in the northeast of the Argentine province of Córdoba, is the Mar Chiquita (in Spanish literally “Little Sea”) or Mar de Ansenuza. It is an endorheic salt lake and the largest of the naturally occurring saline lakes of Argentina.

The lake occupies the southern part of a depression that measures about 80 km (north–south) by 45 km (east–west). Its surface area varies considerably given its shallow depth (about 10 m), between averages of 2,000 and 4,500 km² (corresponding to maximum elevations of between 66 and 69 m above mean sea level).

Mar Chiquita is slowly diminishing in volume due to increased evaporation and elevation of its bottom, and is ultimately bound to turn into a playa (a salt flat). Here, salt flats can be seen along its northern shores.

Mar Chiquita is fed primarily by the saline waters of the Dulce River, coming from Santiago del Estero in the north after being joined by the Saladillo River. The lands around the lower course of the Dulce and Mar Chiquita are wetlands, populated by a large biodiversity (especially aquatic birds).

From the southwest the lake receives (irregularly) the flow of the Primero/Suquía and the Segundo/Xanaes rivers, as well as several streams.

The salinity of Mar Chiquita is quite variable, with measured extremes ranging from 250 g/l in times of low water levels to around 40 g/l in very humid years.

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