Monday, March 22, 2010
Badwater Basin - Death Valley
Badwater is 282 feet below sea level - there is a marker up on the mountain behind the main parking lot that let you know that. Wikipedia says this is the second lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere - the first being in Argentina at Laguna del Carbon which is 344 feet below sea level.
At Badwater, significant rainstorms flood the valley bottom periodically, covering the salt pan with a thin sheet of standing water. Each newly-formed lake does not last long though, because the 1.9 inches (48 mm) of average rainfall is overwhelmed by a 150-inch annual evaporation rate. This, the United States' greatest evaporation potential, means that even a 12-foot-deep, 30-mile-long lake would dry up in a single year. While the basin is flooded, some of the salt is dissolved; it is redeposited as clean crystals when the water evaporates.
Just another of Death Valley's mysteries....