Tufa (too’-fah) 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 lakewater 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.
You can read more about Mono Lake by visiting The Mono Lake Committee’s Website.
If you’re interested in joining me out in the field, there are still a few spaces left in our 2014 schedule. Visit our 2014 Night Sky Photography Workshops page for more info.
via 500px http://ift.tt/1oZ1g3c