Death Valley NP | Regrowing Salt

In October 2015, DVNP was hit by back-to-back storms that were followed by a powerful weather system that dropped nearly 3 inches of rain in five hours. It was the wettest October on record for the area. It triggered a 1,000-year flood event that damaged historic structures, ruined freshly renovated roadways, and placed mud and rocks on the landscape.  The lowest point in the park, the salt flats at Badwater Basin, became submerged in water. It changed the appearance of the crystals on the salt flats: they dissolved.

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Badwater Basin Fissure with Remerging Crystals

By the time we arrived in December, the salt crystals were growing back. It takes time, however, for very large crystalline structures to regrow and also appear on the surface of the basin. I took quite a long solo walk past the midpoint of the basin. I was beyond the main path trail to search for undisturbed lattice structures; to no avail.

Photographically speaking, I had to lay my camera on the ground level to observe the crystals that were re-forming. The salt trapped in the basin of salt formed fissures and cracks along the surface. Peering into them, I discovered not icicles, but rather reemerging crystals. It was fascinating to get up close and observe the natural process underway.

 

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Badwater Basin: It’s Salt, Not Shredded Coconut!

The rounded shapes had a texture and color that reminded me of sticky rice balls – mochi – covered in shredded coconut.

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Badwater Basin: The Salty Crust Stretches for miles.

The crust here isn’t snow or gypsum, but layers upon layers of blinding white salt.

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