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The recent rains and alluviums that hit the north of Chile are not a new and isolated phenomenon, as explained by the hydrogeologist of the Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN), Dr. Christian Herrera Lameli, who points out that the Atacama desert in the In the last 10,000 years, it has presented climatic differences with certain periodicity, including periods of increased rainfall.
This vision departs from the stereotype of the driest desert in the world with which this part of the national territory is usually referred to, and which was questioned by the events that occurred on March 25 of this year, when towns such as Taltal, Copiapó, Tierra Amarilla , Paipote and Chañaral, among others, were affected by heavy rains that had not been registered in those places for decades.
The El Niño phenomenon and climate change would be the main causes of recent rainfall, especially in the sectors close to the Cordillera de la Costa, where the height of this mountain range does not allow to pass and constitutes a barrier for moisture fronts that advance towards the interior of the territory.
“There is evidence that some 14 or 9 thousand years ago, the climate in the highland region was much more humid than it is today. There were large lakes where today we only have salt flats.
These reached depths of between 30 and 40 meters, and that tells us that higher rainfall was recorded during that period, "said Herrera. The academic from the UCN Department of Geological Sciences added that climate change processes manifest with certain periodicity, but that today it is not possible to say if we are facing a more or less humid period in relation to the past.
"We are developing investigations where we have taken groundwater samples, and these have current ages that tell us that there is infiltration and recent recharge in the aquifers in the Precordillera and in the Alta Cordillera."
In addition, he stated that throughout geological time, there have been humid periods and other more arid ones in the Atacama desert.
The foregoing had a direct impact on the development of human populations that have inhabited this territory where, through different scientific disciplines, it is possible to verify the existence of a certain convergence that indicates that in much more arid periods there is less activity of the human population in relation to those where there is greater availability of water resources.