Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, Nov 27, 2008:

Happy Thanksgiving! I woke up today not feeling well which lasted pretty much all day, but I stuck it out and I'm glad I did. Today Guillermo, an infamous Geologist who knows everything about Chile, gave us a little history about the geology and a tour around Salar Grande. There are 4 sets of Volcanic Andes in Chile, ranging from Jurassic in the west to Holocene (present day) to the east. Shallow sudbuction off the coast is "sucking" the continental crust into the ocean at a fairly fast rate (geologically speaking of course!).

EPO_11.27_1.0

The average thickness of the salt in Salar Grande is 70 meters, with some places up to 120 meters thick, and a purity of at least 99%. Guillermo took us to an abandoned mine where we were able to see the perfection of the mined salt. We even found some with radioactive sodium, which showed up as a stunning cobalt blue. Punta Lobos, which is one of the active mines, exports 6 million tons per year, mostly used for roads in the winter. Still, that is an amazing amount of salt!

EPO_11.27_1.1

We also looked for the source of the spherules found on the western, and now portions of the eastern, side of Salar. We ended up finding volcanics with spherules in them, but they were float in what looked like a drainage so who knows where they actually came from. The hunt continues!