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Nitrate deposits of the Atacama Desert; a marker of long-term hyperaridity

Martin Reich and Huiming Bao
Nitrate deposits of the Atacama Desert; a marker of long-term hyperaridity (in Central Andes; mountains, magmas, minerals, Gerhard Woerner (editor), Taylor F. Schildgen (editor) and Martin Reich (editor))
Elements (August 2018) 14 (4): 251-256


The nitrate deposits of the Atacama Desert are unique when one considers that in most surface environments nitrate is produced or consumed by biological processes and is easily washed away by rain. Nitrate deposits have puzzled geologists since Charles Darwin's visit to the Atacama in 1835 and several hypotheses have been proposed to explain their origin. Here, we review our current understanding of the nitrate deposits in the Atacama Desert and show that nitrate's primary origin is predominantly atmospheric. However, its massive accumulation and preservation specifically in Atacama is due to the serendipitous convergence of climatic, tectonic and hydrologic conditions that are unique to the Central Andes.

ISSN: 1811-5209
Serial Title: Elements
Serial Volume: 14
Serial Issue: 4
Title: Nitrate deposits of the Atacama Desert; a marker of long-term hyperaridity
Title: Central Andes; mountains, magmas, minerals
Author(s): Reich, MartinBao, Huiming
Author(s): Woerner, Gerhardeditor
Author(s): Schildgen, Taylor F.editor
Author(s): Reich, Martineditor
Affiliation: Universidad de Chile, Department of Geology, Santiago, Chile
Pages: 251-256
Published: 201808
Text Language: English
Publisher: Mineralogical Society of America and Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland and Mineralogical Association of Canada and Geochemical Society and Clay Minerals Society, International
References: 30
Accession Number: 2018-083840
Categories: Economic geology, geology of nonmetal deposits
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. geol. sketch map
S24°30'00" - S21°30'00", W70°00'00" - W69°15'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Louisiana State University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: International
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, copyright, Mineralogical Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201821
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