Bill Diamond visits El Tatio in Chile

El Taito geyser

Below are some photos from El Tatio – a geothermal hot spring and geyser source at 4200m in the Atacama desert near San Pedro, Chile.  The site is controlled by native peoples and access for research is limited. But we expect to go back tomorrow after surveying the site today, and be permitted to conduct various measurements and perform different surveys.  We will be mapping the site in high-resolution visible and IR with a drone.  We can map down to a resolution of about 9mm, which should provide incredible detail.

The region is teaming with “thermophiles” which are organisms capable of surviving in hot springs at temperatures approaching boiling.  The geology is also quite impressive, with a wide array of elements and minerals, that give rise to brightly colored patches of red, orange, yellow and white, among others.  We will be taking temperature and pH measurements at various locations where hot springs and geysers issue forth and surrounding surfaces and pool edges contain various types of bacterial life. 

One researcher will be using an advanced stereo imaging system to construct 3D virtual images of some of the formations, such as the mud volcanos and warm springs.  We have a geologist on the team, as well as a couple of biologists. We will use a portable Raman spectrometer to look at organic compounds and bacterial samples, and a radiometer to measure UV levels at the site. 

We anticipate a lot of publishable research stemming from this expedition, with our partners who include the University of Montana, Carnegie Mellon University, USC, and academic institutes in both Spain and Chile.

Bill Diamond, President and CEO