Tufa of Mono Lake and Belt of Venus

January 30, 2006

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Provided by: Mike O'Leary
Summary authors & editors: Mike O'Leary

The photo above showing tufa formations which grace the shores of Mono Lake, California was taken in the early evening of December 3, 2005. Tufa are limestone columns formed by underwater springs rich in calcium that mix with the lake water that's rich in carbonates. Tufa towers grow underwater, some to heights reaching over 30 feet (9 m). Beginning in 1941, diversions of stream water high in the Sierra's, for use primarily in Southern California, has caused the lake water level to fall, exposing the tufa. Recent legislation will allow more stream water to flow into the lake, filling it to levels approaching those of the past.

Also shown on the photo is the rising shadow of the Earth, rapidly approaching from the east -- the pinkish layer atop the shadow is known as the Belt of Venus.

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