Ilya Genkin Fine Art Landscape Photography, Travel Photography

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Death Valley

Eastern California, USA

 

Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California, USA. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. Death Valley holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere, 134 F (56.7 C) at Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913, just short of the world record, 136 F (57.8 C) in 'Aziziya, Libya, on September 13, 1922. However, the record high still remains the hottest July temperature ever recorded.

Badwater is a salt flat that is beneath the face of the Black Mountains that contains the lowest elevation in North America at 86 meters (282 ft) below sea level. The massive expanse of white is made up of almost pure table salt. This pan was first created by the drying-up of 30-foot (10 m) deep Recent Lake 2000 to 3000 years ago. Unlike at the Devil's Golf Course, significant rainstorms flood Badwater, covering the salt pan with a thin sheet of standing water. Each newly-formed lake doesn't last long though, because the 1.9 inch (48 mm) average rainfall is overwhelmed by a 150-inch (3800 mm) annual evaporation rate. This, the nation's greatest evaporation potential, means that even a 12-foot (3.7 m) deep, 30 mile (50 km) long lake would dry up in a single year. While flooded, some of the salt is dissolved, then is redeposited as clean, sparkling crystals when the water evaporates. The site itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of "bad water" next to the road in a sink; the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. The pool does have animal and plant life, including pickleweed, aquatic insects, and the Badwater snail.

The Devils Golf Course is a large salt pan on the floor of Death Valley, located in the Mojave Desert within Death Valley National Park. The park is in eastern California. It was named after a line in the 1934 National Park Service guide book to Death Valley National Monument, which stated that "Only the devil could play golf" on its surface, due to a rough texture from the large halite salt crystal formations. Lake Manly once covered the valley to a depth of 30 feet (9.1 m). The salt in the Devil's Golf Course consists of the minerals that were dissolved in the lake's water and left behind in the Badwater Basin as the lake evaporated. With an elevation several feet above the valley floor at Badwater, the Devil's Golf Course remains dry, allowing weathering processes to sculpt the salt there into complicated forms.

Zabriskie Point is a part of Amargosa Range located in east of Death Valley in Death Valley National Park in the United States noted for its erosional landscape. It is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago long before Death Valley came into existence. The location was named after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, vice-president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the early 20th century. The company's twenty-mule teams were used to transport borax from its mining operations in Death Valley.

The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are at the northern end of the valley floor and are nearly surrounded by mountains on all sides. Due to their easy access from the road and the overall proximity of Death Valley to Hollywood, these dunes have been used to film sand dune scenes for several movies including films in the Star Wars series. The largest dune is called Star Dune and is relatively stable and stationary because it is at a point where the various winds that shape the dunes converge. The depth of the sand at its crest is 130140 feet (4043 m) but this is small compared to other dunes in the area that have sand depths of up to 600700 feet (180210 m) deep. The primary source of the dune sands is probably the Cottonwood Mountains which lie to the north and northwest. The tiny grains of quartz and feldspar that form the sinuous sculptures that make up this dune field began as much larger pieces of solid rock. In between many of the dunes are stands of creosote bush and some mesquite on the sand and on dried mud, which used to cover this part of the valley before the dunes intruded (mesquite was the dominant plant here before the sand dunes but creosote does much better in the sand dune conditions).