Course of the Río Loa
|location||Chile , Antofagasta Region|
|River system||Río Loa|
Laguna Seca north of the Miño volcano
|muzzle||in the Pacific
|Height difference||approx. 4000 m|
|Bottom slope||approx. 9 ‰|
|Catchment area||33,570 km²|
||2.43 m³ / s
|Left tributaries||Río San Pedro de Inacaliri , Río Salado|
|Right tributaries||Río San Salvador|
|Reservoirs flowed through||Embalse Conchi, Tranque Sloman, Tranque Santa Fe|
Río Loa in Calama
The Río Loa is a river in the Atacama Desert in Chile , in the Región de Antofagasta . At 443 km, it is the longest of the great transversal rivers in Chile that originate in the Andes and flow into the Pacific.
The river has its source in the Andes, in a valley called Laguna Seca ("dry lake") north of the Miño volcano (5611 m), in which numerous streams gather. From the headwaters it flows further in a deeply cut gorge, initially southwards over a distance of 150 km to the Chiu-Chiu oasis . The main tributaries in this area are the Río San Pedro de Inacaliri and the Río Salado. At Chiu-Chiu it changes its direction of flow to the west, past the mining town of Calama , over 115 km to a point called Chacance, where the Río San Salvador flows into it. From there it flows further north and after another 80 km it reaches the Quillagua oasis . Then it continues to flow in an arc, turning to the west. It crosses the coastal mountains in a 500 m deep gorge and then flows into the Pacific Ocean at Caleta Huelén .
The river is dammed in several places. There is often pollution with heavy metals from the Chuquicamata copper mine and other industrial waste. The city of Calama has insufficient sewage treatment plants.
- Hans Niemeyer Fernández: Hoyas hidrográficas de Chile . 2 a Región de Antofagasta. Ed .: Ministerio de Obras Públicas. Dirección General de Aguas. Santiago de Chile 1980 ( online (PDF; 4.4 MB) [accessed April 2, 2016]).
- Soviet General Staff Map , accessed on topomapper.com on May 9, 2013