Mono Lake Cloudy Tufa
Mottled sunshine breaks through the showery clouds hanging low over Mono Lake. It rained every day during our recent brief visit to the high eastern Sierras. These dramatic Tufa towers remind me of the moon crystal growing toys we had as kids in the '60's. Many folks, especially in southern California, assume the formation of these structures are the devastating evidence and result of DWP diverting feeder streams over the years, lowering the lake level and building the encrustations from evaporation. Not true. Mono Lake is salty, super-alkaline and mineral rich because it has no natural outlet and does not get flushed. The Tufa forms under the water, as fresh water seeps in and up via underground springs and forms calcium carbonate "stalagmites", reminiscent of deep undersea volcanic formations. DWP taking too much water from the feeder streams has exposed the previously underwater formations, but not caused them. New restrictions will eventually return the lake to levels not seen in decades, re-submerging many of these amazing sights but ensuring survival of the simple but fragile surrounding ecosystem. Got a windowless room ? Get the Big Picture on paper, canvas or metal - eye opening visuals cure man cave cabin fever.
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