Salar de Uyuni Facts
- Most notably, the mind-blowing Salar de Uyuni easily ranks as the largest known salt flat on earth. But that isn’t all, since it also formed in an unbelievably remote and difficult to reach location.
- Furthermore, the entire location remains exceedingly smooth and flat over the entire expanse. Because of this, the site is often actually used as a means of calibrating the altimeters aboard various satellites.
- In addition, a remarkable transformation occurs after a period of rain. This results in an extremely thin and nearly perfectly calm layer of water. That transforms the site into what serves as the largest mirror on earth.
- Finally, in addition to the vast salt reserves, it also holds another valuable resource. That’s because Salar de Uyuni holds roughly 40% of the known reserves of lithium in the entire world.
Salar de Uyuni Physical Description
Firstly, the sheer size of the astonishing Salar de Uyuni must be put into perspective. The incredible site covers an astounding area of roughly 4,086 sq mi ((10,582 sq km). In comparison, that’s larger than of the 37 countries in the world.
Yet that hardly serves as the only wondrous thing about the site. First of all, the layer of salt actually has an average depth of more than 6 ft (2 m). In addition, it remains so smooth that the surface height does not vary by more than 3 ft (1 m).
Finally, its mineralogical wealth does not end at salt and lithium. Because of its unique nature, it also contains large quantities of other minerals. These valuable resources include potassium, magnesium, and borax.
Salar de Uyuni Location, Formation, and Geology
The visually staggering Salar de Uyuni formed in a rather rugged and remote location. That’s because the fabulous wonder of Nature formed in one of the highest sections of the Andes Mountains.
Further, it sits in the country of Bolivia, in South America, at an altitude of 11,995 ft (3,656 m) above sea level. Additionally, it formed during the uplift of the mountains, as several ancient lakes were transformed.
Furthermore, scientists estimate that this process began between 30,000 – 42,000 years ago. Between that time and roughly 11,500 years ago, several other lakes also formed and then eventually evaporated.
Finally, and amazingly, the central area holds yet another surprise. In that areas, several small islands actually appear. These represent the tops of ancient volcanoes, and also a source of numerous fossils.