Sunday, November 6, 2011

Where is the Driest Desert on Earth?

Valle de la Muerte, San Pedro de Atacama
Photo courtesy of

The Atacama Desert is a 600-mile (1,000 km) strip of land on the South American Pacific Coast, running through Chile and Peru.  Outlying less-dry areas of the desert run through Bolivia and Argentina.  The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world with no rainfall having been recorded since rainfall records began being kept.  It is also the highest desert on earth, and one of the coldest deserts on earth.  Since certain bacteria and sea-life fossils have been found in gypsum boulders (similar to rocks on the planet Mars), it is believed that the Atacama Desert was once underwater.

For more information in addition to the above links, see the websites of the Gypsum Association and the ALMA telescope, which is the Atacama Large Millimeter Array telescope erected in the Atacama Desert by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

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