BADWATER BASIN is an endorheic basin in
Death Valley National Park ,
Death Valley ,
Inyo County, California
Inyo County, California , noted as the lowest point in
North America , with an elevation of 282 ft (86 m) below sea level .
Mount Whitney , the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States ,
is only 84.6 miles (136 km) to the north west.
The site itself consists of a small spring -fed pool of "bad water"
next to the road in a sink ; the accumulated salts of the surrounding
basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. The pool does have
animal and plant life , including pickleweed , aquatic insects , and
Badwater snail .
Adjacent to the pool, where water is not always present at the
surface, repeated freeze–thaw and evaporation cycles gradually push
the thin salt crust into hexagonal honeycomb shapes.
The pool is not the lowest point of the basin: the lowest point
(which is only slightly lower) is several miles to the west and varies
in position, depending on rainfall and evaporation patterns. The salt
flats are hazardous to traverse (in many cases being only a thin white
crust over mud), and so the sign marking the low point is at the pool
instead. The basin was considered the lowest elevation in the Western
Hemisphere until the discovery of
Laguna del Carbón in
−344 ft (−105 m).
* 1 Geography
* 2 History
* 3 See also
* 4 References
* 5 Further reading
* 6 External links
Badwater Basin elevation sign View of the Basins's salt
At Badwater Basin, significant rainstorms flood the valley bottom
periodically, covering the salt pan with a thin sheet of standing
water. Newly formed lakes do not last long though, because the 1.9 in
(48 mm) of average rainfall is overwhelmed by a 150 in (3,800 mm)
annual evaporation rate. This is the greatest evaporation potential in
the United States, meaning that a 12 ft (3.8 m) lake could dry up in a
single year. When the basin is flooded, some of the salt is dissolved;
it is redeposited as clean crystals when the water evaporates.
A popular site for tourists is the sign marking "sea level" on the
cliff above the Badwater Basin. Crust of hexagonal shapes
The current best understanding of the area's geological history is
that the entire region between the
Colorado River in the east and Baja
California in the southwest (and bordered by various uplifts and
mountains around the west-northwest-northern perimeters) has seen
numerous cycles since at least the start of the
perhaps up to 3 Ma ) of pluvial lakes of varying size in a complex
cycle mainly tied to changing climate patterns (particularly,
glaciation during the numerous recent Ice Age cycles ), but also
influenced by the progressive depositing of alluvial plains and deltas
Colorado River (cf.
Salton Sea ), alternating with periodic
water body breakthroughs and rearrangements due to erosion and the
proximity of the
San Andreas Fault
San Andreas Fault . This has resulted in a high
number of evaporating and reforming endorheic lakes throughout the
Quaternary Period in the area, with an intertwined history of various
larger bodies of water subsuming smaller ones during water table
maxima and the subsequent splitting and disappearance thereof during
the evaporative part of the cycles. Although these local cycles are
now somewhat modified by human presence, their legacy persists;
despite appearances much to the contrary,
Death Valley actually sits
atop one of the largest aquifers in the world.
Throughout the Quaternary's wetter spans, streams running from nearby
mountains filled Death Valley, creating
Lake Manly , which during its
greatest extents was approximately 80 mi (130 km) long and up to 600
ft (180 m) deep. Numerous evaporation cycles and a lack of outflow
caused an increasing hypersalinity , typical for endorheic bodies of
water. Over time, this hypersalinization, combined with sporadic
rainfall and occasional aquifer intrusion, has resulted in periods of
"briny soup", or salty pools, on the lowest parts of Death Valley's
floor. Salts (95% table salt –
NaCl ) began to crystallize, coating
the surface with the thick crust, ranging from 3 to 60 in (8 to 152
cm), now observable at the basin floor.
Badwater Basin panorama
* Geography portal
* California portal
Death Valley pupfish
List of elevation extremes by country
List of elevation extremes by region
* ^ A B "USGS National
Elevation Dataset (NED) 1 meter Downloadable
Data Collection from The National Map 3D
Elevation Program (3DEP) -
National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) National
Elevation Data Set
United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey . September 21, 2015.
Retrieved September 22, 2015.
* ^ "Find Distance and Azimuths Between 2 Sets of Coordinates
(Badwater 36-15-01-N, 116-49-33-W and
Mount Whitney 36-34-43-N,
118-17-31-W)". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved August 13,
* ^ A B
United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey (January 13, 2004).
Death Valley Geology Field Trip. US Department of the
Interior. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved
September 5, 2009.
* ^ "Badwater,
Death Valley National Park". The American Southwest.
2010. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
* ^ "Badwater". Tripadvisor. 2010. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
* ^ "Our Dynamic Desert". pubs.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
* ^ A B "The Salton Sea: California’s Overlooked Treasure -
Chapter 1". www.sci.sdsu.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
* ^ "
Death Valley Groundwater Basin" (PDF). www.water.ca.gov.
* ^ "Life in
Death Valley ~ Little Fish, Big Splash Nature
PBS". Retrieved 2015-06-20.
* ^ A B "
Death Valley Geology Field Trip: Shoreline Butte".
www.nature.nps.gov. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
* ^ "Oasis near
Death Valley fed by ancient aquifer under Nevada
Test Site, study shows". news.byu.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
* ^ Philip Stoffer (January 14, 2004). "Changing Climates and
Ancient Lakes". Desert Landforms and Surface Processes in the Mojave
National Preserve and Vicinity. Open-
File Report 2004-1007. USGS, US
Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on October 23,
2009. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
* ^ Hammer, U. T. (1986-04-30). Saline Lake Ecosystems of the
World. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9789061935353 .
* John McKinney: California\'s Desert Parks: A Day Hiker\'s Guide.
Wilderness Press 2006, ISBN 0-89997-389-2 , S. 54–55
* Don J. Easterbrook (Hrsg): Quaternary Geology of the United
States. Geological Society of America 2003, ISBN 94-592-0504-6 ,