Mysterious White Mounds Appear on Utah’s Great Salt Lake

by Tia Bailey

An array of “mysterious” white mounds appeared on Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Thankfully, there is an explanation for them.

The mounds are usually formed during months when the temperature is lower. According to the UGS, they mounds are formed as sodium sulfate-rich spring water from beneath the ground hits the cold winter air, causing mirabilite crystals to form and build up into a pile.

Although the mounds are usually not visible, they are as the Great Salt Lake is rapidly drying out. As Newsweek explains, nearly the entire circumference of the Great Salt Lake is classified as being in “Extreme Drought.” The east section is classified as “Severe Drought.”

A senior geologist with the UGS, Elliot Jagniecki, shared a statement about this.

“When lake levels are higher, the underground springs are normally covered in salt water. So, they’re usually not visible, but with the lower water levels, now we can see them form,” Jagniecki said.

This past July, the lake had hit its lowest level in history. This is believed to be a direct result of the drought in Utah. Although the drought has improved, it comes with new issues for the state.

Utah Faced with Flash Floods

The state has had to deal with flash floods the last few months. It has even flooded some of the parks, and the result is really interesting.

Death Valley National Park was amongst the areas that got an absurd amount of rain. The area ended up getting around 4-5 inches of rain in hours. The park even had to temporarily close due to the damage that the floods had caused. Thankfully, the park was only closed for two weeks before bouncing back.

“Death Valley National Park’s most popular sites will reopen to the public on Saturday, August 20 – just two weeks after a historic flood unleashed massive, record-setting rainfall and caused millions of dollars in damage to roads and facilities. Several park roads remain closed so visitors should plan ahead and not rely on GPS,” the park’s social media read. “Visitors will only be able to access the park via State Route 190 and Panamint Valley Road. All other paved roads including Badwater Road from CA-178, all access roads via NV-374 (Beatty Cutoff and Daylight Pass), and North Highway/Scotty’s Castle road will remain closed for repairs. When visiting, exercise extreme caution and respect closures. Stay safe in the summer by not hiking at low elevations after 10 a.m., stay within a short walk of air conditioning, drink plenty of water, and eat salty snacks. ”