Sand Tufa

All images copyright (c) by Greg Fisch

Previous Home Next

Mono Lake is one of the most beautiful, but slightly unsettling, areas along the Eastern Sierra.  The lake is highly salty, its only aquatic life are tiny brine shrimp.  Dark bands of brine flies can be found right along the water's edge.  There are several small cinder cones that were formed within the last several hundred years.  But the most remarkable aspect of the lake is the tufa formations found in many areas in and near the lake.

As fresh water springs bubble up from underground, the minerals contained in the fresh water react with the salt water of the lake and form a precipitate which hardens and forms the Tufa structures under the lake.  When Los Angeles began taking water from the streams and rivers that feed Mono Lake, the lake's water level began to drop.  In some areas, entire "forests" of Tufa, 20 to 30 ft. high can be found hundred of feet away from the lake's current bank.

In some areas, the Tufa formed within the soft sandy bottom.  As the lake receded, and the wind blew the sand away, these small formations can sometimes be found.  They are very fragile and many careless hikers trample them down.  The image shows a small area, perhaps 3 ft. high by 6 ft. wide.


Camera: Cambo SCII

Lens: Schneider Super Angulon 90mm f8

 Film: Plus-X 4x5

Development: Normal+1