Salinas de Maras

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Salinas de Maras is located along the slopes of Qaqawiñay mountain, at an elevation of 3,380 m in the Urumbamba Valley, 46km outside of Cusco, Peru. This salt mine is a complex network of nearly 3,000 salt pans, shallow pools that are filled by a hypersaline underground spring. These salt pans are believed to have been developed in pre-Inca times (pre-1430 AD) and today are active hand-harvested by local families during the dry season, May through November. The naturally pink salt gets its beautiful hue from trace elements in the spring water, including calcium, magnesium, silicon, and potassium.

Geologically speaking, Salinas de Maras lies above the Maras Formation in the Cusco Department of the Andes. The source of the spring water is believed to be from a deep halite deposit within the Maras Formation, dating to 110 million years ago (1). Geologists believe that millions of years ago, an ocean covered much of central Peru (2). During the Andean orogeny (mountain building event), these ocean waters were trapped inland, and through evaporation, formed halite deposits that are now the source of the hypersaline spring water, and Salt of the Earth Co. salt.


(1) Maturrano, L., Santos, F., Rossello-Mora, R., and Anton, J. 2006. Microbial Diversity in Maras Salterns, a Hypersaline Environment in the Peruvian Andes, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 72:3887-3895.

(2) Instituto Geologico del Peru. 1989. Entorno geologico de las rocas y minerales industriales. Datos Geol. Peru 2:10-45.

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