The Atacama Desert Essay

1949 words - 8 pages

The Atacama Desert

Exclusive of the largest mountain ranges and oceans, earth’s most well-known physical features are its great desert regions. The word desert often conjures up ideas of open expanses of sand and towering dunes blown by perpetual wind and dust storms. Moreover, deserts are often categorized as being strictly sandy, hot, and extremely dry. Only part of this assumption is correct. Furthermore, the categorizing of deserts as such illustrates how little knowledge many people in fact have of desert regions of the earth.
The notion that all deserts are hot and sandy is especially erroneous. The surrounding landforms, air temperature, and soil composition have no bearing on whether or not a climate region is classified as a dessert. The sole characteristic used in classifying climate regions as a desert is aridity; a lack of moisture (Cressy 390). Deserts can be defined as regions where less than 10 inches of liquid equivalent precipitation falls each year. A better definition is any climatic region where evaporation substantially exceeds precipitation for most of the year (Cressey 390). Thus, based on this definition it is clear that deserts are not regulated to hot low latitude regions of the earth.
Deserts are found at all latitudes, and encompass all air temperature ranges found on earth. Deserts types range from hot hyper-arid deserts such as the Sahara to less known and rather unusual cool coastal deserts such as the Atacama. Although the Atacama does embody hyper-arid characteristics, the Atacama Desert is generally classified as a cool coastal desert. The remainder of this paper will focus specifically on the physical characteristics of the Atacama Desert.


Located in northern Chile and extreme southern Peru, the Atacama Desert is located is perhaps the most unique physiographic location on earth. (Clarke 101) Many topographic features of northern Chile are exclusive to the Atacama Desert; that is they are found in no other place on earth. The Atacama Desert lies between two mountain ranges on the west coast of South America, the Coastal Cordillera and the Andean Cordillera. The Coastal Cordillera ranges in elevation from 500 to 3000 meters (Boa, Jenkins, Khachaturyan, and Diaz 577), and the Andean Cordillera ranges in elevation from 5000 to 6000 meters.
Between the two mountain ranges lies what is called the Central Depression (Boa, Jenkins, Khachaturyan, and Diaz 577). The Central Depression is a valley, not unlike the central valley of California. The Central Depression is void of hydrologic processes (Boa, Jenkins, Khachaturyan, and Diaz 577), and is where the Atacama’s hyper-arid conditions occur. At an elevation of 2300 meters (Dransart 304), the Central Depression is also the site of the Salar de Atacama. The Salar de Atacama (salt flat) is a large salt-covered basin floor lying between the Coastal Cordillera and the Andean Cordillera at the north end of the Atacama Desert (Dransart 304)....

Find Another Essay On The Atacama Desert

Treaty between Bolivia and Chile Essay

1839 words - 7 pages Forums. The repercussions of access to the Pacific, by Bolivia, would be momentous not only for this severely underdeveloped nation but also to international law as it makes way for greater cooperation and understanding amongst brother nations.Prior to the 20th century the Bolivian territory extended to the Pacific and included most of the coast of the Atacama Desert and the port of Antofagasta. The discovery of rich nitrate deposits in the Atacama

NR103 Chile Essay

1224 words - 5 pages natural disaster is occasionally earthquakes, or tsunamis. Generally the climate cools as you move south through the country. The Pacific Ocean holds the temperatures in a moderate range so that there are not dramatic temperature changes between seasons. The subtropical deserts of Chile are mainly in the northern reaches of the country. The land is known for its aridity. This area is home to the Atacama Desert, which sees little to no rain most

GS 147 – LAB 17

835 words - 4 pages News worthy science regarding mass stranding of whales and other marine life has been found in the fossil beds, Cerro Ballena, located in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Together, Smithsonian and Chilean paleontologists examined the site and “documented the remains of 10 kinds of marine vertebrates.” (Science Daily) With their research of the fossil beds, they have discovered that these past mass standings are directly related to poisoning from

Chile and Peru Tacna-Arica and US Involvement

1111 words - 4 pages over the Atacama desert territory” (Antofagasta province) accepting its condition as a landlocked country. Nevertheless, territorial problems between Peru and Chile were far from over and the seed for a new controversy was right in the Ancon Treaty. The United States -in spite of its problematic relation with Chile- would become an active participant in the search for a solution of the territorial problem between the South American countries. a

HD 106906 b: The Mystery Planet

1125 words - 5 pages planet is relatively cool, and is best visible using infrared cameras. It was found on the Magellan telescope in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The telescope features atmosphere correcting technology that uses mirrors that move 1000 times per second and a FIRE spectrograph, a Folded-port InfraRed Echellette that helped show astronomers the nature and composition of the planet. They were also able to confirm the star by looking at images from the

The Chilean Wine History

1996 words - 8 pages climates. Chile stretches over 4.300km from north to south, but has only 350km in its widest point from east to west. With the Andean mountain range at the East and a long coast to the Pacific at the West; the driest desert in the world at the North, and frozen lakes, fjords, canals and twisting peninsulas at the South, Chile is free from many of the fungus, pests and diseases that affect other famous wine regions of the world. The Chilean climate is

Review of Literature-wrote this in 9th grade for science fair. got all the way to state wit it tho so be careful. its about marigolds and what the effects of zinc, borax, and citric acid has on them

1562 words - 6 pages formula is Na2B4O7* 10H2O and has a hardness of 2 and a specific gravity of 1.7. Borax swells, gives off water, and fuses easily, forming a glasslike mass when heated. Mineral borax was discovered in ancient times in Tibet and was exported to Europe under the name of tincal. In modern times, this source was replaced by extensive deposits of borax and related minerals in Stassfurt, Germany; Tuscany, Italy; the Atacama Desert, Chile; and in

When the Bubble Burst

1539 words - 6 pages By the time I arrived state side from my second tour in the Middle East the housing bubble had already burst. I noticed a drastic change in the way that many of my friends and family were living. Several of my friends that worked in real estate had sold their boats and seconds houses. My own stock portfolio had lost a third of its value. My sister and her husband had defaulted on their home mortgage leaving them scrambling for a place to live. I

phase diagram

4456 words - 18 pages Introduction: Chemical equilibrium is a crucial topic in Chemistry. To represent and model equilibrium, the thermodynamic concept of Free energy is usually used. For a multi-component system the Gibbs free energy is a function of Pressure, Temperature and quantity (mass, moles) of each component. If one of these parameters is changed, a state change to a more energetically favorable state will occur. This state has the lowest free energy

Revolutionary Work of Art

1890 words - 8 pages Walter Benjamin emphasizes in his essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” that technology used to make an artwork has changed the way it was received, and its “aura”. Aura represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican is an example of a work that has been and truly a beacon of art. It has brought a benefit and enlightenment to the art

Enlightenment Thought in New Zealand Schools

1594 words - 6 pages In this essay I will be looking at how the political and intellectual ideas of the enlightenment have shaped New Zealand Education. I will also be discussing the perennial tension of local control versus central control of education, and how this has been affected by the political and intellectual ideas of the enlightenment. The enlightenment was an intellectual movement, which beginnings of were marked by the Glorious Revolution in Britain

Similar Essays

Chile: The Land Where The Earth Ends

1692 words - 7 pages four main regions. Norte Grande has a strong desert climate because of the Atacama Desert. The driest place on earth may not seem like a place to start a family, but it is rich in minerals and provides a lively hood for millions of Chileans. The Atacama stretches 600 miles through Chile and a small part of peru, no type of vegetation or animal can be found in some parts of this vast desert. This region is severely deprived of any precipitation and

Desert Essay

1008 words - 5 pages unique statistic is that the Atacama Desert in Chile only averages only 0.4 cm of precipitation annually. In some parts of the world, specifically in Eastern Saharan Desert, it may experience no significant rainfall for 100 years making it harder for biotic and abiotic things to survive. Due to the ITCZ shifting to higher latitudes low latitudes generally receive their rain and also when Monsoon precipitation occurs. When referring to the desert

Chile Essay

1191 words - 5 pages reserves. Next to copper, iron ore is Chile's most valuable resource and employs about 5,000 workers. The Atacama Desert contains the largest nitrate areas in the world. Most of the country's coal production islocated in middle Chile. In 1945 oil and gas were discovered in southern Chile-Tierra del Fuego. Education More than 90 percent of Chile's people can read and write. Chile's university sytem has long been known as one of the best in

Chilean Economy Essay

1925 words - 8 pages Atacama Desert, the country enjoys a very comfortable temperature climate. Population Demographics Chilean population is very small compared to other countries. According to the last census conducted in 2012, “The 2012 census concluded that the population of Chile was 16,634,603.” (citation) This has been the most thorough census in Chilean history having 98.5 percent of the population being included in the span of 4 months. Close to 85 percent of