Salt Flats in Bolivia
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Salt Flats in Bolivia

October 27, 2008
Clouds bank against the coast of northern Chile in this image, captured by the MODIS on the Terra satellite on September 27, 2008. Bolivia is on the right side of the image, and Peru is in the north. The large lake near the top of the image is the famous Lake Titicaca, which is located on the border between Peru and Bolivia.

South of the lake is a large white area, which a salt flat - the largest in the world at over 4000 square miles in area. 40,000 years ago, the area was part of a large prehistorical lake - when it dried, two modern lakes (Poopo and Uru Uru) were left, along with 2 salt deserts. The smaller is called Salar de Coipasa and the larger is Salar de Uyuni. Salar de Coipasa contains Coipasa Volcano, visible in this image as a brown spot in the middle of the flat. There are mountains separating the two salt flats, with Mount Tunupa protruding into Salar de Uyuni. Salar de Uyuni is estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt, which is mostly made of halite and gypsum.

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