Atacama desert dating
The lower image, which includes both visible and infrared light, helps distinguish between snow and clouds.Snow is dark red, while clouds are lighter shades of orange and white. Parts of the Atacama Desert receive just 1 to 3 millimeters of precipitation per year (the local average is 50 mm, or 2 inches). Along with the snowfall, the winter storm also brought temperatures of -8.5C (17.6F) to Santiago, Chile.In October 2017 Drs Katherine Joy and Romain Tartese from the SEES Isotope Group joined a joint French-Chilean led expedition to the Atacama desert in Chile to search and recover meteorites that will be used for scientific analysis.The trip was organised by Jerome Gattacceca from CEREGE , Matthieu Gounelle from the Paris Natural History Museum in collaboration with Chilean geologist Millarca Valenzuela from the Chilean Geological Survey, and included international participants from France, Chile, Argentina, Iran, and the UK.
A few clouds hang over the desert, marring the view slightly.
The Atacama is an extremely dry hot desert environment which has an ancient stable surface dating back several million years.
These settings are highly productive meteorite concentration zones and to date there are ~1100 named meteorites that have been recovered (data from the Meteoritical Bulletin).
This is much older than other hyper-arid regions, such as the Dry Valleys of Antarctica (10-11 million years) and the Namib desert in Africa (5 million years).
"The origin of the aridity in the Atacama dates back to the opening of ocean pathways - the opening between South America and Antarctica, and between Australia and the Antarctic.
His team reports the existence of hyper-arid conditions in the desert have lasted at least 20 million years.