Isla Salas y Gómez

Aerial view of Salas y Gómez, looking east
Aerial view of Salas y Gómez, looking east
Isla Salas y Gómez is located in Pacific Ocean
Isla Salas y Gómez
Geography
LocationLocation of Salas y Gómez Island in the Pacific Ocean
Adjacent bodies of waterPacific Ocean
Total islands1
Area15 ha (37 acres)
Highest elevation30 m (100 ft)
Administration
Region Valparaíso
Province Isla de Pascua
Commune Isla de Pascua

Isla Salas y Gómez,[1] also known as Isla Sala y Gómez, is a small uninhabited Chilean island in the Pacific Ocean. It is sometimes considered the easternmost point in the Polynesian Triangle.

Isla Salas y Gómez and its surrounding waters are a Marine Protected Area called Parque Marino Salas y Gómez, with a surface area of 150,000 km2.[2]

Geography

Isla Salas y Gómez is located 3,210 km west of the Chilean mainland, 2,490 km west of Chile's Desventuradas Islands, and 391 km east-northeast of Easter Island, the closest landmass. Salas y Gómez consists of two rocks, a smaller one in the west measuring 4 hectares in area (270 meters north-south, 200 meters east-west), and a larger one in the east measuring 11 ha (500 meters north-south, 270 meters east-west), which are connected by a narrow isthmus in the north, averaging approximately 30 meters in width. The total area is approximately 15 hectares (0.15 km²), and the total length northwest-southeast is 770 meters. Its highest point, 30 meters above sea level, is in the south of the eastern rock, less than 30 meters from the shore, above a 10 meter high cliff. The highest elevation on the western rock is 26 meters.[citation needed]

The island is showered with saltwater, and the shoreline is dotted with countless tidepools. Because the shoreline consists primarily of cliffs, landing on the island is difficult in all but the calmest of conditions.[citation needed]

There are no permanent sources of freshwater on the island, but there is an intermittent rainwater pool in a depression on the eastern rock, which often forms a cache of freshwater 75 meters in diameter. This is essential for the survival of the large population of seabirds.[citation needed]

Even when this area appears dry at the surface, the sand is still moist just a few inches below the surface. This flat sandy area is also the only place on the island suitable for landing helicopters.[citation needed]

In 1994, the Chilean Navy installed an automated beacon and a tsunami warning system. The island has since been declared a nature sanctuary.[3]