Today was spent gearing up for a week of field work in the desert. Justin, Rick, & Liz rented a 4WD pickup truck, and retrieved Rick & Liz's lost luggage from the Iquique Airport. While they were doing this, Sue and Ryan did some sightseeing. The image below was taken from a beach with basalt outcropping in the foreground; the juxtaposition between ocean, city, and desert is striking (the desert is apparent in the bone-dry ridge rising up behind the skyscrapers). Using your imagination (or Google Earth), it is also interesting to note that a deep ocean trench lies just off the coast of Iquique (all of South America, actually). This trench runs along the western coast of South America, where the Nazca (oceanic) plate is sliding (or subducting) below the South American (continental) plate. This trench provides cold water from the ocean depths to the surface, which is partially responsible for the extreme arid conditions in this region of South America.