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Salares of the Atacama Desert, Chile

20.9S 69.5W

September 4th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Chile - August 31st, 2009

Chile - August 31st, 2009

The Atacama Desert is a virtually rainless plateau in South America, covering a 600-mile (1,000 km) strip of land on the Pacific coast of South America, west of the Andes mountains (on the right side of this  orthorectified image).

The Atacama occupies 70,000 square miles (181,000 km2) in northern Chile, composed mostly of salt basins (salares), sand, and lava flows.

Several salares are visible here as lighter grey areas on the left side of the image. The largest, reaching down the left edge from top to center, is the Salar de Pintados.

Just southeast of the bottom end of the Salar de Pintados is the Salar del Sur Viejo. It does not appear light grey as the former because it is covered with evaporation ponds or salt pans. Upon opening the full-size image, these appear as a cluster of black rectangles on top of the salar.

Moving further south in the full image, the Salar de Llamará is visible on the left, above a sharp ridge of hills.

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