Atacama virtual: English

Landscapes of the Atacama Desert, Chile

Introduction: The Atacama desert (2)

Museo Virtual, Chile

W. Griem, 2006 - 2021

Atacama desert, Chile

Atacama desert near Llano San Pedro - Piedra Colgada (W. Griem; 2003; CanonA100) Large photo

Information Photo:
Camera Powershot-A100 | Focal length: 5,41mm | Shutter speed: 1:250
F: f/5.6 | Original size: 1280 x 960 | Date: 2003/5/24/16:58 hrs.

Atacama desert, Chile

Photo: Typical desert landscape with mountains, near Copiapó Quebrada Paipote, Atacama Region (Chile) - W. Griem 2009 - Canon-XSi1929): Large Photo

Information Photo:
Camera Canon XSi | Lens: 17-70mm +pol.| Focal length:23mm | Shutter speed: 1:160 | ISO100
F: f/4.5 | Original size: 4272 x 2848 | Date: 2009/07/9/9:46hrs.

Atacama Desert: p.1 | p.2

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The absence of water for several years and the high temperatures with great differences between day and night destroy the rocks without the presence of water.

As a result, large masses of loose rocks are formed, up to very extensive plains and large alluvial fans.

The Paipote Quebrada (creek) (among others) with the international road shows all the morphological phenomena of the desert. This ravine also serves an important infrastructural function.

In some parts of the desert there are oasis or vegas. The Copiapó and Huasco rivers form river oases. In addition, there are isolated vegas in the middle of the desert, but generally located in ravines. Here we can mention "La Puerta" located in Quebrada Paipote or "La Finca de Chañaral Alto" among others. In some of these vegas you can still notice the traces of a historical agriculture. But with the possibility of transporting vegetables and fruits from southern Chile, most of the vegas were abandoned.

The desert is a quite special but fragile natural environment. The desert ecosystem depends on many factors and needs to be looked after.

For us as human beings the desert is not the "normal" environment, we must take some precautions and be aware that:
a) water is scarce - always carry a good quantity of water
b) the solar power is extremely high, especially the UV radiation indexes
c) Wind can be strong and dry
d) There are almost no people - there are places where for decades not a single person entered
e) Height affects all persons - from approx. 4000m upwards. many feel bad
f) Nights are characterised by very low temperatures. Even in accessible areas (4000 meters high) they can reach -20ºC.
g) Sporadic rains can be extremely strong and carry everything away.


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Published: 17.2.2015, updated: 18.9.2017, 23.12.2018, 30.01.2021
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