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9/13 Mon – We decided to visit Mono Lake and walk around the South Tufas.
Call them weird, even bizarre, but the unusual rock formations that grace Mono Lake's shores
are known to geologists as tufa (too'-fah). Tufa forms in a variety of ways at Mono Lake,
but the most visible and remarkable formations are the towers that grace Mono's shoreline.
ABOVE - The start of the hike in the South Tufas
BELOW - Judith enjoys the tufas of Mono Lake
Tufa is essentially common limestone. What is uncommon about this limestone is the way
it forms. Typically, underwater springs rich in calcium (the stuff in your bones) mix with
lake water rich in carbonates (the stuff in baking soda). As the calcium comes in contact
with carbonates in the lake, a chemical reaction occurs resulting in calcium carbonate--limestone.
The calcium carbonate precipitates (settles out of solution as a solid) around the spring,
and over the course of decades to centuries, a tufa tower will grow.
Tufa towers grow exclusively underwater, and some grow to heights of over 30 feet.
The reason visitors see so much tufa around Mono Lake today is because the
lake level fell dramatically after water diversions began in 1941.
Below - I think the last pic is my favorite