Atacama Desert and Monje de La Pacana

November 11, 2021



Photographer: Alexis Trigo 
Summary Authors: Alexis Trigo; Jim Foster

Contrast the daylight photo above of the rock formation known as Monje de La Pacana, in the Atacama Desert of Chile, with the Earth Science Picture of the Day for August 11, 2021. This stone pillar stands some 70 ft (21 m) tall. Eons of wind erosion and frost-freeze cycles have shaped the hyper-arid landscape here. Snowfall and rainfall play a role as well, when rain actually falls, which may only be once a year, even though the Atacama lies only about 100 miles (160 km) from the Pacific Ocean. The high elevation of this portion of the Atacama (approximately 14,350 ft or 4,375 m), and the fact that it’s in the rain shadow of the Andes Mountains contributes to the desert’s extreme dryness. Photo taken in November of 2016.


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