Salt Saucers

December 29, 2010


Photographer: Susan Celestian
Summary Author: Susan Celestian

These "salt saucers" formed on the surface of brine pools on Searles Lake, near Trona, California. During the day, high temperatures and low humidity promoted rapid evaporation. A layer of salt crystals formed a thin film on the surface of the pools. When a gentle breeze broke the film, the pieces bumped together to form small ridges along their perimeters. Continued evaporation created another thin film -- shown between the saucers. As the saucers moved with the breezes, more salt was accreted on their perimeters, producing the rounded, encrusted saucers seen in the photos. With nothing to support them from below, the saucers eventually got too large, became flooded and sank. Photo taken on October 12, 2008.

Photo details: Camera Maker: NIKON; Camera Model: COOLPIX P4; Focal Length: 26.3mm (35mm equivalent: 126mm); Aperture: f/6.5; Exposure Time: 0.0027 s (1/373); ISO equiv: 50; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Center Weight; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (Auto); Color Space: sRGB.