Utah’s Glimmering, Glittery Cascade Springs

August 20, 2019

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Photographer: Ray Boren 
Summary Author: Ray Boren 

During a summer hike to and around the wildflower-lined pools and travertine terraces of Cascade Springs, in the foothills northeast of Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, a glittering patch of clear water caught my eye, as captured in this photograph taken on July 30, 2019. A dazzling caustic network — lines of refracted and/or reflected light concentrated on a curved (or rippling) surface — was at play in the shallows, with patterns of abstract fractals dancing above light-colored rocks, gravels and sand (bottom photo).

RayB_alploop434c_30july19 (002)The natural, artesian Cascade Springs emerge suddenly from filtering Pleistocene glacial deposits that sit atop limestone and dolomitic deposits laid down 245 million years ago, now uplifted as part of the Wasatch Range. Dissolved minerals, chiefly calcium carbonate, in turn have formed low travertine terraces and pools, with dozens of trickling cascades. The springs yield a consistent flow of 12 to 15 cubic feet per second — or 7.5 million gallons (29 million liters) per day, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Photo Details: Top - Camera: NIKON D3500; Exposure Time: 0.0031s (1/320); Aperture: ƒ/9.0; ISO equivalent: 100; Focal Length (35mm): 18. Bottom - same except: Exposure Time: 0.0020s (1/500); Aperture: ƒ/8.0; ISO equivalent: 140; Focal Length (35mm): 210. Inset - same as top except: Exposure Time: 0.033s (1/30); Aperture: ƒ/25.0; Focal Length (35mm): 105.