Nature's Artistry in a lake within a volcanic cone
What are the chances of finding a lake within a collapsed volcano cone out in the dry, hot desert of Nevada? Just northwest of Fallon, Nevada, off a dirt road to the north is a 1.2 mile long body of water, named Soda Lake.
The basin that holds Soda Lake's water is a collapsed volcanic cone. Over the short geological span of 1500 years, magma rose toward the surface which boiled the groundwater, causing a violent explosive eruption. However, it has only been recently that the water for Soda Lake filled the collapsed cone when irrigation from farming caused the ground water to rise.
The eastern rim of Soda Lake provides the most noticeable clue of the volcanic cone and rises 80 feet above the water. Dark rocks of various sizes, "basaltic bombs" can still be found mixed in the sand of the crater.
However, one of the most intriguing features at Soda Lake is not exactly due to its volcanic evolution. Looking across the lake to the northwest, a number of white pillars stand out on the water's edge.
At first glance, I was reminded of the Biblical "Pillars of Salt" and curiosity drew me to venture for a closer look.
The white pillars in various shapes and sizes growing out of the water appeared to me as abstract art works in plaster of paris. I was soon to learn that these creative works of nature's artistry were in fact Tufa Mounds.
Tufa is a type of limestone and tufa mounds are created when underwater springs rich in calcium mix with carbonates (soda). A chemical reaction forms that produces calcium carbonate--limestone. The calcium carbonate precipitates or settles out of solution as a solid around the spring. Over the course of time, which usually takes hundreds of years, tufa mounds begin to grow. However these at Soda Lake are estimated by the USGS to be less than a century old.
Some of the larger tufa mounds reach about 9 feet tall (3m) with a 16 foot (5m) base. Since the tufa mounds grow or form underwater, they may extend down 13 feet (4m) deep.
The shallow shore makes a sudden drop off visible in the darker shades of green, the lake has a calculated depth of 147 feet (44.80m).
Soda Lake's high alkali content does not support fish, but brine shrimp do thrive in the water. The brine shrimp draw a large variety of waterfowl, including grebes, gulls, terns, coots and ducks. Additionally people come to swim and soak in the lake for recreation and the health benefits of the carbonates.
Nature's diversity never fails to amaze me as I have discovered in this thriving habitat that exists within a collapsed volcanic cone in an alkaline lake. Continue to follow my blog and check back often to see what adventures my next photo-explorations will discover.
What an exciting and interesting photo-adventure this day has been. I love it when I am drawn to an area and not knowing what to expect I get treated to new experiences.
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