Badwater Basin - Death Valley
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2013 Sandra Bronstein Photography. All Rights Reserved.
Badwater Basin is an endorheic basin in Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, Inyo County, California, noted as the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 states, is only 84.6 miles to the northwest.
The site itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of "bad water" next to the road in a sink; the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. The pool does have animal and plant life, including pickleweed, aquatic insects, and the Badwater snail.Adjacent to the pool, where water is not always present at the surface, repeated freezethaw and evaporation cycles gradually push the thin salt crust into hexagonal honeycomb shapes.At Badwater, significant rainstorms flood the valley bottom periodically, covering the salt pan with a thin sheet of standing water. Each newly-formed lake does not last long though, because the 1.9 inches of average rainfall is overwhelmed by a 150 inch annual evaporation rate. This, the United States' greatest evaporation potential, means that even a 12-foot-deep, 30-mile-long lake would dry up in a single year. While the basin is flooded, some of the salt is dissolved; it is redeposited as clean crystals when the water evaporates.
April 1st, 2013
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