Thursday, November 6, 2014

Salar de Llamara

After a full day of tree coring on Tuesday, we spent most of the day on Wednesday collecting water samples in order to learn more about the sources of water in the Atacama Desert, which is one of the driest places on Earth.  One particularly interesting place is called Salar de Llamara (photos below), which is a natural spring where under ground water (groundwater) flows to the land surface.  This area is particularly important because water is scarce in the Atacama Desert, so this spring is something like an oasis providing water for the extremely sparse vegetation.  It is important to know that this water is not drinkable for most animals because of the very high salt content; however, we did notice some brine shrimp swimming in a few of the pools.  Nevertheless, this water is extremely important for the local mining economy, which pumps groundwater from the area to support their mining operations.

Rick collecting a water sample at the Salar de Llamara.  Notice the white material all around--this is salt!

Rick and Ryan at the Salar de Llamara.  The water is beautiful, but extremely salty.

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