Atacama Desert


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Atacama Desert

(ätäkä`mä), arid region, c.600 mi (970 km) long, N Chile, extending south from the border of Peru. The desert itself, c.2,000 ft (610 m) above sea level, is a series of dry salt basins flanked on the W by the Pacific coastal range, averaging c.2,500 ft (760 m) high, and on the E by the Andes. There is practically no vegetation; rain has virtually never been recorded in some localities, and some river beds appear to have been dry for tens of thousands of years. Of the streams descending from the Andes only the Loa River reaches the Pacific. Antofagasta and other regional ports are without protected anchorages and are subject to frequent and severe earthquakes. The Atacama has been a source of great nitrate and copper wealth.

The first European to cross the forbidding waste was Diego de AlmagroAlmagro, Diego de
, c.1475–1538, Spanish conquistador, a leader in the conquest of Peru. A partner of Francisco Pizarro, he took part in the first (1524) and second (1526–28) expeditions and in the bloody subjugation of the Incas after 1532.
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, the Spanish conquistador, in 1537. From then until the middle of the 19th cent. it was largely ignored, but with the discovery of the use of sodium nitratesodium nitrate,
chemical compound, NaNO3, a colorless, odorless crystalline compound that closely resembles potassium nitrate (saltpeter or niter) in appearance and chemical properties. It is soluble in water, alcohol, and liquid ammonia.
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 as a fertilizer and later with the invention of smokeless powder using nitroglycerin, the desert had a mining boom. Although the southern half of Atacama belonged to Bolivia, the companies exploiting the deposits were Chilean. Differences arose, and in the ensuing war (see Pacific, War of thePacific, War of the,
1879–84, war between Chile and the allied nations, Peru and Bolivia; also called the Chile–Peruvian War. The trouble began when President Hilarión Daza of Bolivia rescinded (Feb.
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), Chile won the entire area. When synthetic nitrates were developed after World War I, the boom collapsed. Economically, the Atacama is declining, as reserves are depleted and the desert expands southward into once arable land. In more recent years solar and wind energy projects have been developed in the region, and lithium deposits have been exploited.

Atacama Desert

a desert region along the W coast of South America, mainly in N Chile: a major source of nitrates. Area: about 80 000 sq. km (31 000 sq. miles)
References in periodicals archive ?
The first high-altitude Atacama Desert camps were established between 9,900 and 8,800 years ago.
This Declaration is a wake-up call to the need to reverse the uncontrolled use of water in the Atacama Desert and guarantee access to clean water as an inalienable right for present and future generations.
"In the past researchers have found dying organisms near the surface and remnants of DNA but this is really the first time that anyone has been able to identify a persistent form of life living in the soil of the Atacama Desert," Schulze-Makuch said.
The Atacama Desert of Chile and Peru stretches almost parallel along the Pacific Coast for about 600 miles (1,000km).
The fact that the Atacama Desert and Death Valley National Park both gave spectacular displays of colour within six months of each other is no coincidence.
High in the Atacama Desert, around 10,000 feet, you can look at the fields around Turi, Chile, and see small neatly laid out fields, terraced and lined with rocks.
show that it is instead in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
"The combination of high mountaintops and the driest desert air on the planet makes a trip to the Atacama Desert the top choice for skywatchers," says Bob McDonald.
Muhn said, 'Chile is a high-potential solar market and home to some of the strongest solar irradiation in the world, particularly in the Atacama Desert. While we see tremendous growth potential in Chile's utility-scale market, we also anticipate that the country's relatively high electricity prices and strong solar resources will provide a foundation for a thriving and sustainable distributed generation market in the future.'
The new antenna will be similar to the 25 SATCOM Technologies-built radio telescope antennas operating at the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array observatory that is located 200 km (124 miles) from the LLAMA site, in the Chilean portion of the Atacama Desert.
Chinchorro culture consists of fishermen villages located in the coast of Atacama desert, from Ilo in Peru in the north to Antofagasta in the south between 7020 BC and 1500 BC.
The 9,374 Km-long route led from Rosario in Argentina across the Andes and the challenging Atacama desert to Valparaiso in Chile at the Pacific coast.