Mono Lake

Apr 15, 2021 View Comments by

Mono Lake is a saline soda lake in Mono County. Formed at least 750,000 years ago it is a closed basin with no river outlet which causes salt levels to accumulate over time. It is possibly a remnant from a larger, older lake which once covered large parts of Utah and Nevada.

In recent history the city of Los Angeles diverted water from the fresh water streams flowing into the lake for their own use. This caused the water level to drop in the lake revealing the majestic tufa towers seen today.

After a legal battle with Los Angeles it has been agreed that the water level will now be partially replenished but not so much as to completely submerge the towers once more. That would ruin the tourism attraction.

Tufa towers like these are formed underwater as subsurface water enters the bottom of the lake through small springs. High concentrations of calcium in these subsurface waters cause calcite to precipitate around the spring orifices. It is the build up of this calcite over centuries that causes the formation of towers like those seen at Mono Lake.


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