Tufa Pinnacles, Mono Lake, California

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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Location: 37o 56' 39" N, 119o 01' 39" W.

Bizarre pinnacles rise from Mono Lake in eastern California. The lake contains dissolved minerals, and springs emerging from the bottom of the lake caused minerals to precipitate to form a variety of limestone called tufa.

The reason the pinnacles are visible is that Los Angeles, far to the south, now uses much of the runoff from winter snow in the Sierra Nevada, preventing it from reaching Mono Lake. Water in the lake evaporated, dropping water levels by 50 feet and revealing the pinnacles. The lake is also an important stopover for migrating waterfowl. An agreement between environmentalists and Los Angeles now allows enough water to reach Mono Lake to maintain its present level.


Original Scene

(author's image)

Possible Coloring


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Created 19 February 2008, Last Update 14 December 2009

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