Archive - Panamint Delta

January 22, 2022


Every weekend we present a notable item from our archives.

This EPOD was originally published February 10, 2011.

Photographer: Wendy Van Norden 
Summary AuthorWendy Van Norden

The photo above shows a portion of Panamint Valley, California, just west of Death Valley. One expects to see alluvial fans in a desert but not river deltas. This delta looms above the ghost town of Ballarat, California (in the midground at right) and is a testament to the fact that the Panamint Valley was not always a desert. Located in the Basin and Range province, the Panamint Valley is a pull-apart basin, similar to Death Valley. According to ancient shoreline data Panamint Valley was filled with water to about 1,820 ft (555 m) during the Pleistocene (1.8 million to 10,000 years ago). The delta above Ballarat deposited sediment into Lake Panamint, one of a string of Pleistocene lakes located in desert basins of California. This picture was taken from below Surprise Canyon. Surprise Canyon leads to Panamint City, yet another ghost town in the Panamints. Gold and silver were discovered nearby in 1874. However, the mother lode proved much more elusive than the alluvium that over time filled the lake. Photo taken on March 9, 2005.

Photo details: Camera Maker: CASIO COMPUTER CO.,LTD.; Camera Model: EX-S600; Focal Length: 18.6mm (35mm equivalent: 114mm); Aperture: f/5.2; Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250); Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB.

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