Atacama desert dating
This theory proposes that the paucity of sediments running off the desert region into the ocean is denying lubrication to the Pacific and South American tectonic plates which meet just off the coast.
A few clouds hang over the desert, marring the view slightly.
It may also explain why earthquakes in the region can be so large.
"Interlocking shear stresses build up so much and if they are released, they produce much stronger earthquakes than are seen in other areas," Dr Dunai explained.
Ordinarily, the flashes of white in South America’s Atacama Desert rise from salt pans.
But on July 7, 2011, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired these images, much of the white came from a far rarer commodity: snow.
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