<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Evanescent Light : Mono Lake


evanescent
: fleeting, transitory
evanescent wave: a nearfield standing wave, employed for total internal reflection microscopy

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Mono Lake

Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles. It is an ancient lake, over 1 million years old -- one of the oldest in North America. It has no outlet. Throughout its long existence, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Eastern Sierra streams. Freshwater evaporating from the lake each year has left the salts and minerals behind so that the lake is now about 2 1/2 times as salty and 80 times as alkaline as the ocean.

The Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve was established to preserve the spectacular "tufa towers," calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. The most popular area for visitors is "South Tufa". However, by venturing down sandy 4WD trails followed by a little hiking and bushwacking it is possible to find totally secluded and even more beautiful areas. Many of the photos here were taken at a more easterly section of the lake, where both the large 'carbonate' tufa and the fantastically delicate and intricate sand tufa can be found.

The water level in Mono Lake is presently (May 2015) at its lowest level for 20 years (6379 ft above sea level), only 7 ft higher than its historic low before the legal settlements curtailed diversion of inflows by LA DWP. With the miniscule snowpack and continuing drought the water will likely drop further, but an additional fall of only 2 ft will trigger a clause requiring DWP to suspend diversion of all waters flowing into the lake. [See here for a recent discussion.] The low water level unfortunately makes the South Tufa area look rather scruffy, with a wide 'bathtub' ring of wet mud and broken fragments of tufa.

The Lake




 

 

   





The low lake level is most apparent looking across to the tufa 'island' off the tip of the Sout Tufa area. Compare today's photo with one from five years ago.

The tufa island; 2011

Water level in Mono Lake: 1980 - present
 

   








 
 


Mono Lake : Sierra wave clouds


Mono Lake : Tufa before sunrise

Mono Lake : afternoon stormclouds


Mono Lake: moonrise over the tufa


Mono Lake : bright stones

Mono Lake tufa : lone pinnacle


Mono Lake : water and stone reflections


Mono Lake : tufa and star circle reflections

Mono Lake : whisps of morning




Mono Lake : two rocks at dawn


Mono Lake : moonrise reflection over tufa

Mono Lake : twighlight clouds


Mono Lake : ghost clouds over the tufa



Milky Way over the South Tufa: Mono Lake

Mono Lake : twighlight cloud reflections




Mono Lake : side-lit tufa towers



Mono Lake : Tufa reflections in the blue hour



Mono Lake : before dawn













South Tufa panorama, Mono Lake (giant stitched panorama ; 40 MB download)

Birds of Mono Lake



 

 








Sand Tufa



 


   

 








last updated 06/11/2016

IanParker
1146 McGaugh Hall
University of California,
Irvine, CA 92697

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