Earth Science Pic of the Day for December 8th

Searles Lake Pink Halite

December 08, 2011

SearlesLakeP1000909 copy

Photographer: Nel Graham
Summary Author: Nel Graham; Jim Foster

This unique pink halite was collected in brine pools at Searles Lake in Trona, California. The halite is colored by millions of halobacteria that survive inside salt crust and by algae (greenish crystals) that live in the extremely saline waters of the lake. Searles Lake is the remains of a large lake that was formerly fed by the Owens River in rainier times. Since it’s now an endorheic lake (closed drainage system), its water is considerably saltier than lakes fed by freshwater rivers — more than 5 times the salinity of sea water.

Every year on the second weekend in October the company that owns and mines the area for evaporite minerals opens it up for public collecting. This event is well known locally by rock hounds in Southern California and is always well attended. Photo taken on October 9, 2011.

Photo details: Camera Maker: Panasonic; Camera Model: DMC-TZ4; Focal Length: 5.0mm (35mm equivalent: 39mm); Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0031 s (1/320); ISO equiv: 100; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB; Software: Ver.1.0.