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Where in the World are You?...Gran Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Updated on March 3, 2013
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Where in the World are You?

At first glance it appears that this vehicle is driving on water, depending on the time of year that could be a very real possibility. Though there is not always water to be found on the surface, during the rainy season a relatively close and a relatively large body of water overflows its banks and often time’s floods this normally brackish location.

The process that produced this peculiar location, all 4000 plus square miles of it, began thousands of years ago as part of an exceptionally large body of water. This one body of water metamorphosed into a somewhat different body of water, personally I don’t understand the difference but that’s beside the point. This secondary body of water then dried up, leaving more than one more which subsequently dried as well, leaving what you’re looking at now. Got it? No? Good.

The location is found on a high altitude flat terrain, where this particular mountain range is at its widest, covering parts of at least three different countries. This particular location, and a nearby location of the same geologic origin, consists of a top crust of varying degrees of thickness covering a lake that is made up of a solution of various other minerals, all in their chloride form. Of these various minerals found here, one is so concentrated that the country in which this location is found contains almost fifty percent of the planet’s supply of it.

We all know that exceptionally flat surfaces have a tendency to attract those intent upon setting land time speed records, this one is no exception. The difference in attitude of the entire 4000 plus square miles of this surface is less than three feet. The exceptional flat surface, while certainly conducive to traveling at high rates of speed, actually serves a much higher purpose here; when I say high, I mean HIGH. I will not, however be telling you specifically what it is because that would be giving away entirely too much information. Based on the paltry amount of information that I have provided, can you confidently tell me So…Where in the World are You?


Gran Salar de Uyuni; Bolivia

The world’s largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni, is located on the Bolivian Antiplano of the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. Located where the Andes Mountains are their widest, the Salar serves as both a valuable transport route across the Andes but also as a valuable source of tourism income.

The Salar started as a part of a prehistoric lake that transformed into an ancient paleolake that again transformed into another prehistoric lake. Lost yet? Just wait. When this last prehistoric lake dried it left behind two modern day lakes and two salt flats, which includes the 4,000-plus square mile Salar de Uyuni. During the wet season, one of the previously mentioned modern day lakes overflows into the very large Lake Titicaca, which then floods the Salar de Uyuni.

The salt brine that sits beneath the crusty upper layers of the Salar is quite valuable to the country of Bolivia. The brine is rich in minerals, including: sodium chloride, lithium chloride, and magnesium chloride; in fact it is estimated that the Salar contains between fifty and seventy percent of world’s supply of lithium. Finally, the exceptional flatness of the Salar provides the world’s space agencies with the perfect location to calibrate their satellites.

And for one last interesting side note…within close proximity to the Salar de Uyuni one can find a literal train cemetery. Created when Bolivia’s mining industry collapsed in the 1940’s, the area is home to the rusting hulks of several train cars that had been used during the mining heyday in Bolivia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salar_de_Uyuni#Satellite_calibration

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
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    • profile image

      Wilbart26 5 years ago

      Oh wow, the photo caught my attention, it's beautiful,oh by the way, where in the world are you?

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Hello, Ryan - Happy Sunday.

      Thank you for you latest 'Where in the World.......' We've been out in our 'Bluebirds' and think it is Great Salt Lake, Lake Bonneville - Utah, USA.

      I hope again that we're correct!

      Ian.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Hello Ryan

      This was so hard because we knew that it was Great Salt Lake, but we did not know which part.

      However we searched and found the answer, in the end.

      This may possibly be wrong but it has to be Great Salt Lake, Lake Bonneville, Utah, USA.

      Please don't kill us, but Ian and I have had the greatest time doing these hubs. We are truly big fans of yours, and are looking forward to many more.

      Calpol25

    • point2make profile image

      point2make 5 years ago

      Looks like Uyuni Salt Lake in Bolivia

    • profile image

      mours sshields 5 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      Beautiful! Although, I have no idea where it is.

    • rlbert00 profile image
      Author

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Ian and calpol25...it is with much regret (mostly) that I have to inform you that I have finally succeeded in pulling one over on you. The Bonneville Salt lats and this location are remarkably similar, so similar in fact that one could mirror a description of them and really not be able to distinguish between the two. There is however one clue in the puzzle that differentiates between the two..."The location is found on a high altitude flat terrain, where this particular mountain range is at its widest, covering parts of at least three different countries". The Bonneville Salt Flats are within the contiguous United States so therefore only one country. Nice try gentlemen but I'm gonna have to ask you to try again.

    • rlbert00 profile image
      Author

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Sorry...Flats, the Bonneville Salt Flats.

    • calpol25 profile image

      Callum 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (At Home With My Wonderful Partner)

      Hi Ryan

      Well we had a good go! Plus we have truly enjoyed this, even though we got it wrong.

      However after many hysterics, we did find this possible answer...

      Lake Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia that has 50% to 70% of Lithium deposits and is a salt lake also.

      The other lake you refer to that bursts its banks, is Lake Titicaca because it overflows and discharges into Lake Poopó, which, in turn, floods Salar De Coipasa and Salar de Uyuni.

      The location of Salar de Uyuni is found on a high altitude flat terrain, where the 'Andes' mountain range is at its widest covering parts of at least three different countries.

      Thanks for all the fun and look forward to your next one :)

      Calpol25

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Damn - we got confused with 'The location is found on a high altitude flat terrain, where this particular mountain range is at its widest, covering parts of at least three different countries' as we thought it referred to the mountain range covering three countries (which the Rockies does!)

      So we've now moved to South America where we reckon it is Salar de Uyuni in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia.

      Did you know that there is a train cemetary in the area?

      Thanks Ryan for all of this fun - we look forward to many more.

      One up to you - well done!!!

      Ian.

      PS Can you get dilithium crystals from this lake, Scottie?

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      I have no idea where this is, but your clue of the high flat terrain and three different countries, makes my think of Lake Titicaca in the high regions of the Andes.

      Great Hub, as usual!

    • rlbert00 profile image
      Author

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      joanveronica...You are definitely in the right region on this one. Lake Titicaca plays a critical role in this one.

    • rlbert00 profile image
      Author

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Ian...I apologize, you are absolutely right in regards to the Rocky Mountains, I hadn't even considered them. As for the the train cemetery, I did see photos of it and had added to my list of future puzzles but will now be removing it from my list, damn. And finally...I'm not familiar with dilithium crystals, lithium yes and that is certainly the mineral in question. I'm guessing from the Scottie reference that it has something to do with Star Trek?

    • alian346 profile image

      alian346 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Dilithium is the fictitious substance which is used to enable the starships in 'Star Trek' to travel at warp speed.

      So it sounds as if we're right about this one if we take into account what joanveronica has written.

      Thanks again Ryan for so much fun especially with this one!

      Ian.

    • rlbert00 profile image
      Author

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      point2make...Nicely done, exactly right it is Gran Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Thank you once again for your participation.

    • rlbert00 profile image
      Author

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      calpol25...Nicely done, it is the Gran Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. I was surprised to find that 50 to 70 percent of the world's lithium deposits are found here, seems like a lot.

    • rlbert00 profile image
      Author

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Ian...well that explains it, don't believe I have seen all of any of the Star Trek movies.

    • rlbert00 profile image
      Author

      rlbert00 5 years ago from USA

      Gran Salar de Uyuni; Bolivia.

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