Day #59 Outcrop: Potash Evaporation Ponds

As many times as I’ve passed the Bonneville Salt Flats, it seems I still don’t have a digital photo of them. So, to continue the evaporative theme for the weekend, today’s “outcrop” is the potash evaporation ponds, near Potash, Utah. This was always a fun stop on the FHSU Geology Summer Field Camp. We would first catch a glimpse of the distinctive sky blue ponds from a stop at Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab, Utah (below).

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Potash Evaporation Ponds from Dead Horse Point, Utah

The following day we’d make the drive along the Colorado River to Potash, Utah, and, after getting permission at the Intrepid Potash office, go in to view the ponds up close (below).

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Potash Evaporation Ponds

The evaporation ponds are part of a brine well, solution mining operation aimed at recovering potash for fertilizer. Hot water is injected into wells that bottom in the Paradox basin evaporite beds, hundreds of feet down. Halite and sylvite are dissolved by the hot water and the resulting brine is pumped to the surface for evaporation. Blue food coloring is added to speed the evaporation process.

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Blue Brine and Potash Salts

Tomorrow’s deskcrop will explore one of the spectacular accidental by-products of this evaporation operation.

Explore this and all of my 2010 Deskcrops and Outcrops in Google Earth!

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