Hemispheric University

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile 

Facility Name

Atacama Desert Research Station – Alto Patache

Facility Description

Since the 1980s, researchers at the Institute of Geography have been investigating using fog as a viable source of water.

In 1997, they discovered an area 56 km south of the city of Iquique and 7 km north of a small fishing village called Chanavaya in the Tarapacá Region, which made up what we called a fog oasis. The area, which is state-owned, presented valuable features for research in the desert, especially the presence of dense fog, which supports the formation of a
unique ecosystem.

In 2007 Universidad Católica obtained the concession of the land from the Ministry of National Assets, and the 1,114 hectares were passed on to the University administration for 25 years, with the objective of environmental conservation as well as the development of research and education into this local phenomenon.

The station has an infrastructure that meets its needs: six domes which house bedrooms, bathrooms, storage, teaching and dining areas, as well as an office for administrative and IT work. The installations are self-sufficient, using solar energy and water extracted from fog. The facilities allow Chilean and foreign scientists to investigate in the desert in excellent conditions.

Facility Past Projects

Some research areas: (1) Solar energy and sun behavior, (2) Lichens discovery, (3) Effect of climate change on fog, (4) Exploring building techniques.

Facility Contact

Pablo Osses, Director