On our last road trip, Jordan and I drove from Purmamarca up to Las Salinas Grandes in Jujuy, Argentina. Neither of us had ever seen one in person before, so the the 1.5 hour drive from Purmamarca was definitely not something we considered an obstacle. Salt flats are places begging to be seen and photographed. That’s said, the drive itself didn’t disappoint, either. The road weaved from mountain to mountain and climbed its way up to 4,170 meters. We even had a vicuña sighting on the way back down.
Both of us considered this one of the best stops during our trip here. After spending an afternoon exploring the flats and taking photos to our hearts content, I couldn’t help but think, “That was awesome. Oh, yeah, and why does that exist?!” and then go look up some information about salt flats. Curiosity killed the cat, but keeps me kicking. The fruit of my labor and our camera:
5 Facts I Didn’t Know About Salt Flats
1. You need three things for their to be a salt flat: an arid climate, a source of salts, and an enclosed drainage basin (so those salts don’t drain away). (Source)
2. The largest salt flat in the world is the Salar de Uyuni, located in Bolivia (some day I’ll go!). How big is it? Over 4,000 square miles. (source)
3. That salt flat (from #2) is so big, flat, and clear that it’s used by NASA to calibrate satellites (source). This is a double geo-nerd fact.
5. Salt flats have crazy mineral properties and resources, but they’re also used for some strange events. The Bonneville Flats are home to a car racing club (and many racing events) and the Badwater Basin flats are home to an ultramarathon.
Look closely at the photo below. See all those ridges in the “far”mountain. Switchbacks for the road.
Geo-joke ahead: Jordan got high in Jujuy. 4,170 meters high.
Seriously, this drive and this visit blew my mind. So fun to see.
In case you haven’t gotten enough of salt flats and you’re interested in making your own mini-salt flat, check this link out: http://www.education.com/science-fair/article/Miniature-Salt-Flats/.
Sure, it’s meant for kids, but lots of you have kids around. Pretend you’re doing it for them 🙂