Monday, April 07, 2008
Death Valley Trip - Badwater
2008-03-18. Badwater was our second stop in Death Valley. I've already posted about the juvenile White-Crowned Sparrow I observed there , so some of this is repetition.
Badwater, a basin in California's Death Valley, has an elevation of 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. It is the lowest point in North America. The marker about mid-way up the cliff in the photo above marks Sea Level.
The site itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of water next to the road; however, the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus the name "Badwater". The pool does have animal and plant life, including pickleweed, aquatic insects, and the Badwater snail.The pool itself is not actually the lowest point of the basin, which is several miles to the west and varies in position. However, the salt flats are hazardous to traverse (in many cases being only a thin white crust over mud), and so the sign is at the pool.
Adjacent to the pool, where water is not always present at the surface, repeated freeze-thaw and evaporation cycles gradually pushed the thin salt crust into curiously hexagonal honeycomb shape. We didn't get out to the hexagon area, but you can see from the photo below how the salt crust gets deformed.