Lithium Mines #2, Salt Flats, Atacama Desert, Chile

Edward Burtynsky Canadian

Not on view

The striking blue and green pools seen here, while extraordinary, do not belong to an interplanetary apparatus parked above the Atacama Desert. Instead, they are salt flats integral to the largest lithium mining operation in Chile. As rendered in this photograph, the mirage-like installation appears to hover mid-air through a play of light. The image is part of photographer Edward Burtynky’s Anthropocene project, which uses beautiful imagery to raise awareness about the often-devastating effects of human activity on the earth. This complex strategy is even thornier in this case since lithium is a “greener,” non-fossil resource that could help reduce our carbon footprint, even while the extraction process is not without environmental risk to the surrounding area.

No image available

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.