Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Trip to Maars, Photos at Soda Lake

Exploring on the Rim

Standing on the rim of Soda Lake gives such a peaceful view and at first glance it appears as a man-made reservoir out in the desert.  

However if you look past the cottonwood trees, rabbit bush and salt grass there are glimpses of the violent past that helped form Soda Lake and Little Soda Lake. 

The Soda Lake basin was created by a collapsed volcano cone, which includes the larger Soda Lake, 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) in length and its sibling to the west the 660 feet (200 meters) Little Soda Lake. They were possibly formed when magma rose close to the surface, boiled the groundwater and caused an explosive eruption. 

Basalt bombs, dark rocks of different sizes, litter the rim and give evidence of the volcano’s violent eruption. Careful footing is needed because the sand is very soft, which might give me a much too close encounter with the water. 

Both lakes are the remnants of two young volcanoes or technically speaking: maars.  USGS defines Maars as "tuff cones"-- shallow, flat-floored craters that were formed above a breccia-filled volcanic pipe or diatreme.

A pure form of sodium bicarbonate or soda from which the lakes are named was discovered by early pioneers and was used in mining. 

 Over the short span of 1500 years that is estimated in the life cycle of Soda Lake, nature adapts to the high alkali content of the water attracting a wide variety of birds that thrive on the brine shrimp and underwater plants.
 I look forward to a return visit in the spring to this peaceful sanctuary when the weather warms.

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With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.
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