Atacama desert dating
This is much older than other hyper-arid regions, such as the Dry Valleys of Antarctica (10-11 million years) and the Namib desert in Africa (5 million years)."The origin of the aridity in the Atacama dates back to the opening of ocean pathways - the opening between South America and Antarctica, and between Australia and the Antarctic.The Atacama is well known for its lack of rainfall, but scientists are only now getting a handle on how long it has experienced low precipitation levels.Dr Tibor Dunai from Edinburgh, UK, is working in the region to date surfaces.Cosmic aid There are locations in the Atacama where not a single drop of rain has been recorded by humans, and the Edinburgh University researcher has studied dry river beds he can show have had no water running through them for 120,000 years.But it is with the general hyper-aridity conditions of the Atacama that the Scottish-based scientist is most interested.
But on July 7, 2011, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired these images, much of the white came from a far rarer commodity: snow.
This theory proposes that the paucity of sediments running off the desert region into the ocean is denying lubrication to the Pacific and South American tectonic plates which meet just off the coast.
This causes a degree of locking and leads to greater uplift of the Andes than would otherwise be the case.
You can read more about the Chile collection sites and previous meteorite finds in the following research papers: We spent 9 days in the field and collectively recovered ~ 600 meteorite stones!
Several of these are likely paired with each other, representing different fragments of the same parent meteorite that exploded and scattered debris across a strewn field.