“Sunset in the Valley”

50 States of American Landscape:

Salt Flats, Death Valley, California .

Temperature 107F

The salt flats are composed mostly of sodium chloride (table salt), along with calcite, gypsum, and borax. The source of salt flats is Death Valley’s drainage system (9,000 square miles), an area larger than New Hampshire. Rain falling on distant peaks creates floods. Minerals dissolve from rocks and join the flood. At the lowest elevation floods form temporary lakes. As the water evaporates, minerals concentrate until only the salts remain. After thousands of years, enough salts have washed in to produce layer upon layer of salt crust.