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Tinajas in Lincoln County, Nevada Tinajas.jpg
Tinajas in Lincoln County, Nevada

A tinaja [tiˈnaxa] is a surface pocket (depression) formed in bedrock that occurs below waterfalls, that is carved out by spring flow or seepage, [1] or that is caused by sand and gravel scouring in intermittent streams (arroyos). [2] [3] Tinajas are an important source of surface water storage in arid environments. [2] [4]


These relatively rare landforms are important ecologically, because they support unique plant communities and provide important services to terrestrial wildlife. [5]

The term originates in Spain, being Spanish for "clay jar", and is used in the American Southwest.


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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Southwestern United States</span> Geographical region of the United States

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Tropical deserts are located in regions between 15 and 30 degrees latitude. The environment is very extreme, and they have the highest average monthly temperature on Earth. Rainfall is sporadic; precipitation may not be observed at all in a few years. In addition to these extreme environmental and climate conditions, most tropical deserts are covered with sand and rocks, and thus too flat and lacking in vegetation to block out the wind. Wind may erode and transport sand, rocks and other materials; these are known as eolian processes. Landforms caused by wind erosion vary greatly in characteristics and size. Representative landforms include depressions and pans, Yardangs, inverted topography and ventifacts. No significant populations can survive in tropical deserts due to extreme aridity, heat and the paucity of vegetation; only specific flora and fauna with special behavioral and physical mechanisms are supported. Although tropical deserts are considered to be harsh and barren, they are in fact important sources of natural resources and play a significant role in economic development. Besides the equatorial rainforest, there are many hot deserts situated in the tropical zone.


  1. Osterkamp, W. R. 2008. Annotated Definitions of Selected Geomorphic Terms and Related Terms of Hydrology, Sedimentology, Soil Science and Ecology: Reston, Virginia, Open File Report 2008-1217, pp 49
  2. 1 2 Fox, William (2005). Desert Water. Portland, Oregon: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company. p.  12. ISBN   978-1-55868-858-2.
  3. Mabbutt, J. A. (1977). Desert Landforms. Canberra: Australian National University Press. p. 182. ISBN   978-0-7081-0437-8.
  4. Brown, T. B. and R. R. Johnson. 1983. The distribution of bedrock depressions (tinajas) as sources of surface water in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science 18: 61-68.
  5. National Park Service (NPS). 2006. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Ecological Monitoring Report, 1997–2005, Chapter 14: Water Quality.http://www.nps.gov/orpi/naturescience/orpi-ecological-monitoring-report.htm

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