The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah are a ghostly reminder of what was once a huge inland sea. The end of the last Ice Age — when the first people walked the ice bridge across the Bering Strait to the Americas — would foreshadow its slow demise. As the climate warmed, the briny sea slowly dried leaving behind a salinotype of its former self, as much as seven feet deep in some places. It’s been claimed that the densely-packed, supernally white landscape is so flat you can actually see the curvature of the Earth.

Speed freaks have been drawn to it for a century. Bonneville Speed Week, captured here by Simon Davidson, is annually home to the world’s fastest speed trials. In recent decades, potash mining has diverted the brine that floods the ancient lake in winter and replenishes the salt bed when it dries in warmer months.

A coalition of racing and salt enthusiasts called Save the Salt have called on miners and the Bureau of Land Management which oversees Bonneville to save the salt. Last February, mine operators restarted a program to pump leftover brine onto the flats in winter.

In 1997-2002, the program successfully expanded the salt crust but as the program is voluntary it ceased, and the flats began to deteriorate again until last year. As February approaches again may those pumps be blessed by the spirit of the ancient lake.

The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah are a ghostly reminder of what was once a huge inland sea. The end of the last Ice Age — when the first people walked the ice bridge across the Bering Strait to the Americas — would foreshadow its slow demise. As the climate warmed, the briny sea slowly dried leaving behind a salinotype of its former self, as much as seven feet deep in some places. It’s been claimed that the densely-packed, supernally white landscape is so flat you can actually see the curvature of the Earth.

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Speed freaks have been drawn to it for a century. Bonneville Speed Week, captured here by Simon Davidson, is annually home to the world’s fastest speed trials. In recent decades, potash mining has diverted the brine that floods the ancient lake in winter and replenishes the salt bed when it dries in warmer months.

image

A coalition of racing and salt enthusiasts called Save the Salt have called on miners and the Bureau of Land Management which oversees Bonneville to save the salt. Last February, mine operators restarted a program to pump leftover brine onto the flats in winter.

image

In 1997-2002, the program successfully expanded the salt crust but as the program is voluntary it ceased, and the flats began to deteriorate again until last year. As February approaches again may those pumps be blessed by the spirit of the ancient lake.


The Colorado River has been the misused lover of many a mining corporation and troubled politician — but beauty always has a way of gracing even the most violent and unfortunate human offenses. It’s uncomfortable and comforting and discomfiting and sort of otherworldly when it does. Here, an aerial view, from Boulder photographer Jesse Varner, of evaporation ponds at the Potash Plant near Moab, Utah. Salts are mined and pumped up from deep below the surface, and the solution is concentrated in these evaporation ponds for extraction as a chemical fertilizer.

The Colorado River has been the misused lover of many a mining corporation and troubled politician — but beauty always has a way of gracing even the most violent and unfortunate human offenses. It’s uncomfortable and comforting and discomfiting and sort of otherworldly when it does. Here, an aerial view, from Boulder photographer Jesse Varnerof evaporation ponds at the Potash Plant near Moab, Utah. Salts are mined and pumped up from deep below the surface, and the solution is concentrated in these evaporation ponds for extraction as a chemical fertilizer.


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