Best Rock Man in Chile

Thursday- Field Day 2

Today we got a tour from Guillermo, probably the most intelligent man on rocks in Chile. We stopped by the ocean and he told us about the faults, the old andes, their formation/composition, etc. Then we drove up to near the limestone crop and stopped again to let Guillermo fill us in on the mines (who owned them, how the operated, etc) which was really interesting to hear.

The salt here is 99.9% pure which is incredible. We then went south and crossed the salt flat which was about 20 minutes of a severely bumpy road. By far the bumpiest road i've ever been on (another 'first life' thing) to check the other side of the salt flat for more spherules. Guess what; we found them. This was 'good trouble' according to Natalie, which had to mean that it would put another variable into our equation, but would just be one more piece that we would know about in the end... I assume.

After the spherule exploration we traveled even FARTHER south to an abandoned salt mine, maybe 40 or 50 feet deep, with the tools and everything still in it. Guillermo told us it was abandoned because the salt was not pure, and to look for blue salt. We found some salt that had bright navy in it, and he told us it was radioactive sodium which would be, an obvious reason, why the mine could not continue and be profitable. I certainly wouldn't want blue salt, let alone radioactive salt on my roads or table. We looked up the half life of sodium; its maximum is 2.6 years, and considering this has been an inactive salt flat for about 12 million years, I think we're okay.


On our way out of the salt mine we stopped at a hut and Guillermo talked to a man who lived there. He said that a man comes by once a month to bring him food, but we gave him some fruit to have. Living off spaghetti isn't too fun. That was the last stop for the day, so we crossed the horribly bumpy salt flat and headed back home. It was fun to get a tour and history of the area as well as explore it.