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Ron Horloff | profile | all galleries >> Mono Lake, the High Sierras, and Sequoia National Park tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Mono Lake, the High Sierras, and Sequoia National Park

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Mono Lake is located in California along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It is 760,000 years old and 6380 ft. above sea level (1946m). The water supply comes from underground springs, mainly from runoff from the Sierra Nevadas, but also from other areas.

Mono Lake has no outlet, and the only way water can leave is through evaporation, which causes the minerals in the lake to become concentrated. It is 2 to 3 times saltier than the ocean, and has a very high alkalinity (pH ~ 10).

The unusual formations arising from the lake are called Tufa, which are made from calcium carbonate (limestone or calcite). They are formed when the underwater springs, which are rich in calcium, mix with the lake water that is rich in carbonates. When calcium comes in contact with carbonates, calcium carbonate forms and precipitates around the underground spring. Over decades to centuries, tufa towers grow. They grow exclusively under water and can reach heights of 30 ft. (9.1m). Tufa become visible when the lake level falls.

Mono Lake is a sanctuary, breeding area, and restaurant for almost 100 species of birds; millions arrive and depart between summer and fall. Trillions of brine shrimp and alkali flies provide an unlimited food supply. Some of the birds are residents while others are migratory visitors.

Devil's Postpile National Monument: A nearby volcano erupted 100,000 years ago, spewing basalt lava which cooled and formed these mostly hexagonal vertical columns. About 15,000 years ago, a glacier sheared off the side and top, leaving these 60ft (18m) high columns. The top of the Postpile reveals the hexagonal shapes and parallel groves where rocks carried in the glacial ice scraped across them.


Monoliths and bushes
Monoliths and bushes
The shallows
The shallows
Calcium carbonate deposits
Calcium carbonate deposits
Birds and monolith
Birds and monolith
Mono Lake
Mono Lake
Tufa
Tufa
Mono Lake
Mono Lake
Monolith tufa
Monolith tufa
Tufa and birds
Tufa and birds
Bird on tufa
Bird on tufa
More tufa
More tufa
The shallows - B&W
The shallows - B&W
Four fingered tufa
Four fingered tufa
Gulls on tufa
Gulls on tufa
Flowers and tufa
Flowers and tufa
Tufa in the morning
Tufa in the morning
Three tufa
Three tufa
Tufa and gulls
Tufa and gulls
Gull and blackbird
Gull and blackbird
Morning at Mono
Morning at Mono
Mountain lake
Mountain lake
Top of Mammoth Mountain (11,063ft, 3372m)
Top of Mammoth Mountain (11,063ft, 3372m)
Devil's Postpile sign
Devil's Postpile sign
Devil's Postpile
Devil's Postpile
Top of Devil's Postpile
Top of Devil's Postpile
The Minarettes, about 13000 ft (3962m)
The Minarettes, about 13000 ft (3962m)
Deer
Deer
Devil's Postpile
Devil's Postpile
Skelton Lake
Skelton Lake
High Sierra lake
High Sierra lake
The high Sierras
The high Sierras
Devil's Postpile
Devil's Postpile
The Minarets
The Minarets
Top of Mammoth Mountain
Top of Mammoth Mountain
Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls
Cattails
Cattails
Dead tree
Dead tree
Mountain lakes
Mountain lakes
Deadwood
Deadwood
Top of Devil's Postpile
Top of Devil's Postpile
Devil's Postpile
Devil's Postpile
The Minarets in the High Sierras
The Minarets in the High Sierras
Tufa island in the mist
Tufa island in the mist
Lone tufa
Lone tufa
General Sherman tree
General Sherman tree
General Sherman tree
General Sherman tree
Giant sequoias
Giant sequoias
Huge sequoia
Huge sequoia
Sequoia gate
Sequoia gate
Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon
Burnt tree
Burnt tree
Colonel Young Tree ,Sequoia National Park
Colonel Young Tree ,Sequoia National Park
High alpine lake
High alpine lake
Evening tufa
Evening tufa
One way to fish
One way to fish
Reflections
Reflections
Taking a hiking break
Taking a hiking break
Sierra log
Sierra log
Mono Lake
Mono Lake
General Sherman sequoia tree
General Sherman sequoia tree