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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."The desert is known for saltpetre which was very important in explosives production in the past.It is the only place in the world where it has accumulated because it is so easily dissolved by rainfall." Dr Dunai was speaking here at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.You can read more about the Chile collection sites and previous meteorite finds in the following research papers: We spent 9 days in the field and collectively recovered ~ 600 meteorite stones!Several of these are likely paired with each other, representing different fragments of the same parent meteorite that exploded and scattered debris across a strewn field.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.
"We found loose sediment surfaces that would be washed away by any desert rainfall and these are older than 20 million years," he said.
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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The Atacama desert in South America has been in a super-dry state far longer than any other location on Earth - nearly 40 million years in some places.