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Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 in Chile, Explore, South America

The mystery that is the Valle de La Luna, San Pedro de Atacama, Cile

The Valle de la Luna, or translated to Moon Valley.
Located in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. This is the driest desert in the world. What is this Moon Valley I speak of?

Relaxing at sunset. Valle de la Luna, San Pedro, Chile

This valley is famous for its resemblance to the surface of the moon (Now the name makes sense), owing to its different stratifiations and the salt formations that are caused by natural environmental factors.

wearing sandels in the desert - Not Smart!

There are 3 major areas. Firstly, The Cordillera de Domeyko mountain range can be seen from the West to East, whose peak is called Kimal and reaches a height of 4,278 meters above sea level. Next, there is the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Range), which is a lower area known as the Preandean Depression (or aka, Valle de la Luna, in which the Salar de Atacama is locatd at 2,300 m.a.s.l.) Finally, there is the Andean Mountain Range, which is made uup of a plateau, known a the Altiplano (Puno Plateau is 4.700 masl), and a chain of volcanos, including Licancabur (5.916 masl); Aguas Calientes (5.924 masl); Lascar (5.154 masl); and Acamarchi (6,046 masl). These volcanos divide the area and create the present system of rivers and gorges.

the Amphi Theatre, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

For thousands of years strong winds have affected these reliefs, creating huge fields of sand dunes. The Great Sand Dune was probably formed by the accumulation of sand, prompted by natural barriers which constitute the base of the dunes.

The Cordilera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Chain) was formed by the horizontal accumulation of thin layers of materials (sand, clay, and salt), which were subsequently destroyed by movements in earth´s crust. The actions of wind and water upon these geographical formations have created a sequence of peaks, similar in outline to the bellows of an accordion. This area is called the Amphi Theatre.

The next major sight is the Tres Marias (The Three Maries) which are formations from the result of intense erosion processes. They are composed of grvel, clay, salt, gems, and quartz, and are approxmately one million years old.

Tres Marias, Valle de la Luna, Chile

Then there in the Salt Mines. In here you can see crystals of gem salt which are caused by the effects of high pressure and the absence of humidity.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Crystal! I’m a park ranger/geologist at Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern Utah. I’m working on a hoodoos around the world photographic mural exhibit and I was wondering if I could use your beautiful photo of Tres Marias? Can you send me a high res version. I would of course give you credit for your photo. Thanks!