Posted by: Rose | April 27, 2009

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane…

I have to go back to Yosemite; there’s just no denying it. I want to walk off into the woods, regardless of the bears, mountain lions, poison oak, rattlesnakes…

And I also have to go back for Mono Lake. I can’t believe that I was so close and didn’t go!

Mono Lake is an odd one, a freaky number. The white spires within the lake are tufa. It’s made of calcium carbonate, the same stuff as limestone. The process that forms tufa is essentially the same as cave formations (think stalagtites and flowstone), but not in a cave!

So you have some hard water and the calcium carbonate comes out of solution and becomes a solid, usually through a change in temperature, pressure or through turbulence of the water. This is exactly what happens at home when the kettle goes scaly.

For those interested in some chemistry, it’s this:

Ca(HCO3)2 <=> CaCO3 + H2O + CO2

Calcium bicarbonate to calcium carbonate plus water plus carbon dioxide

Even on the tufa scale, Mono Lake is pretty unusual. The columns have formed where springs enter the lake and they’ve only been exposed due to falling lake levels caused by water abstraction. They should be underwater!

I know A LOT about tufa; I studied it for 4 years. So you can probably understand why I’m upset about not going to Mono Lake and paddling between those white columns.

…don’t know when I’ll be back again. But it will happen, sometime.


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