Artisanal salt mining in Maras-Urubamba, Cuzco, Peru

CIM Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2011

H. Aral, M. I. Pownceby, P. Moreno

The Maras salt terraces, located between Cuzco and Urubamba in the Andes (southern Peru), are living examples of traditional Incan salt production, where present-day artisanal miners produce salt from shallow pans by solar evaporation. In these terraces, natural spring water, eight to nine times saltier than seawater, is used to produce the salt. The field observations and chemical analyses show that the poorly crystalline traditional salt is finer in particle size and contains impurities such as dolomite and gypsum. These differences are the result of shallow pond depth, contamination from wall erosion, and the nonsequential mode of salt crystallization.
Mots Clés: Maras-Cuzco Peru, Salt mining, Incan salt terraces, Artisanal salt