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Joshua | profile | all galleries >> Images from Southwestern United States >> Mono Lake tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Mono Lake

Mono Lake is located immediately to the east of the Eastern Sierras, California, along Highway 395 and fairly close to the Nevada border. The lake is characterized by the presence of tufa "structures". Tufa is actually a carbonate deposit and is formed by a chemical reaction of the alkaline lake water with fresh water springs. The actual process typically takes place underwater and works its way up. Once exposed or close to the water/air interface, abundant flies contribute to the growth of tufa accumulation. During their larvae state, these alkali flies generate calcium carbonate in their glands and then deposit their "secretion" on the submerged towers when they pupate and leave the water as adults. When the lake water receeded, the tufa structures in various forms, shapes and heights become now exposed, towering above the water surface.

The southern part of Mono Lake, called South Tufa Reserve, is known for its significant tufa structures. During my visit, the first winter storm of the season was brewing in the Sierras to the west, bringing the season's first snow. I could see the tail end of the storm tapering off in the lower part of the Sierras, as captured in some of the images. I took pictures until it was almost pitch black that evening; some of the images are time exposures around 30 seconds. I was the last person to leave that place and the first person to come back the following morning. The same fascinating subject but now with different lighting characteristics. The landscape there may provoke comparisons to the lunar landscape sans water; albeit an earthy lunar landscape at that. You need to go see the lake for yourself and if you do, take a lot film or if you are "digital" plenty of gigabytes with you. Thank you for visiting and enjoy the images!

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