Mono Lake

Mono Lake
Enlarge picture
Mono Lake - Satellite photo
Satellite photo
LocationCalifornia
Coordinates
Lake typeHypersaline
Monomictic
Primary sourcesOwens River
Primary outflowsAqueduct
Evaporation
Basin countriesUnited States
Max length~7.5 km (4.7 mi)
Max width~7.5 km (4.7 mi)
Surface area180 km² (69 mi²)
Average depth17 m (57 ft)
Max depth48 m (159 ft)
Water volume2.97 km³ (0.71 mi³)
Shore length1~25 km (15.5 mi)
Surface elevation~1,945.8 m (6,383.9 ft)
Negit Island
Paoha Island
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
Mono Lake is an alkaline and hypersaline lake in California, United States that is a critical nesting habitat for several bird species[1] and is an unusually productive ecosystem.[2]

Geology



Mono Lake is believed to have formed at least 760,000 years ago, dating back to the Long Valley eruption. Sediments located below the ash layer hint that Mono Lake could be a remnant of a larger and older lake that once covered a large part of Nevada and Utah, making it among the oldest lakes in North America.

Mono Lake is a terminal lake in a watershed fed from melting runoff with no outlet. Dissolved salts in the runoff thus remain in the lake and raise the pH and the salt concentration.

Mono Lake is in a geologically active area at the north end of the Mono-Inyo Crater volcanic chain of the Long Valley Caldera. The geological activity is caused by faulting at the base of the Sierra Nevada, and is associated with the crustal stretching of the Basin and Range Province.

Volcanic activity continues in the Mono Lake vicinity: the most recent eruption occurred 250 years ago at Negit Island in Mono Lake. Panum Crater (on the south shore of the lake) is an excellent example of a combined rhyolite dome and cinder cone.

Conservation efforts

In order to provide water for growing Los Angeles, water was diverted from the Owens River and then from the tributaries that fed Mono Lake (see California Water Wars). In 1941 the city of Los Angeles extended an aqueduct system into the Mono Basin, diverting water that would otherwise have entered Mono Lake. The water surface area was 54,924 acres (0 km) in 1941. Water diversion soon rapidly reduced the surface area to 37,688 acres (0 km) by 1982, resulting in a loss of nearly 27 square miles (0 km) of lake area.

Enough water was diverted that evaporation soon exceeded inflow and the lake level fell rapidly, exposing alkaline sands and once-submerged tufa towers, and turning Negit Island into a peninsula, exposing the nests of gulls to coyotes and forcing them to abandon the island.

In 1976 University of California, Davis graduate student David Gaines earned his master's degree studying the Mono Lake ecosystem and was instrumental in alerting the public of the effects of the lower water level. Gaines formed the Mono Lake Committee in 1978 and joined up with the Audubon Society to fight a now famous court battle to protect Mono Lake through state public trust laws. Despite these efforts, the lake is still lower than historic levels and exposed shorelines are a source of significant alkali dust during periods of high winds.

Owens Lake, which sustained a similar ecosystem, completely dried up because of water diversions. Mono Lake was spared the same fate on September 28, 1994, when the California State Water Resources Control Board issued an order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams. Since that time the lake level has steadily risen; in 1941 the lake level was at 6,417 feet (1956 m) above sea level and as of August 2006 it was at 6,385 feet (1946 m)[3]. The goal is to have lake level rise to 6,392 feet (1948 m) above sea level, a goal made more difficult during years of drought in the American West.
Enlarge picture
Mono Lake from Mount Dana Summit

Ecology

The lake contains approximately 280 million tons of dissolved salts, with the salinity varying on the amount of water in the lake at any given time. Before 1941, the salinity was approximately 50 grams per liter (g/l) (compared to a value of 31.5 g/l for the world's oceans). In January 1982, when the lake reached its lowest level of 6,372 feet (1942 m), the salinity had nearly doubled to 99 g/l. In 2002, it was measured at 78 g/l and is expected to stabilize at an average 69 g/l as the lake replenishes over the next 20 years.[4]

The hypersalinity and high alkalinity (pH=10 or equivalent to 2.5 grams of NaOH per liter of water[5]) of the lake, means that no fish are native to the lake. An attempt by the California Department of Fish and Game to stock the lake failed. The lake is famous for the Mono Lake brine shrimp, Artemia monica, a tiny species of brine shrimp, no bigger than a thumbnail, that are found nowhere else on earth. During the warmer summer months, an estimated 4-6 trillion brine shrimp inhabit the lake. The brine shrimp feed on microscopic planktonic algae which reproduce rapidly during winter and early spring after winter runoff brings nutrients to the surface layer of water. By March the lake is "as green as pea soup" with photosynthesizing algae.[6] Brine shrimp has no food value for humans, but is a staple for birds of the region. Also an important food source, alkali flies ("Ephydra hians") live along the shores of the lake and walk underwater encased in small air bubbles to graze and to lay eggs. The whole food chain of the lake is based on the high population of single-celled algae present in the warm shallow waters.

Mono Lake is a vital resting and eating stop for migratory shorebirds and has been recognized as an International Reserve in the Western Hemisphere Reserve Network.[1] Nearly 2,000,000 waterbirds, including 35 species of shorebirds, use Mono Lake to rest and eat for at least part of the year. Some shorebirds that depend on the resources of Mono Lake include American avocets, Killdeers, and sandpipers. Over 1.5 million eared grebes and phalaropes use Mono Lake during their long migrations.
Enlarge picture
Exposed tufa towers in the lake


Late every summer tens of thousands of Wilson's phalaropes and red-necked phalaropes arrive from their nesting grounds, and feed until they continue their migration to South America or the tropical oceans respectively.[1]

In addition to migratory birds, a few species spend several months to nest at Mono Lake. Mono Lake is the second largest nesting population of California gulls, second only to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. After abandoning the landbridged Negit Island in the late 70s, California gulls have moved to some nearby islets and have established new, if less protected nesting sites. Cornell University and Point Reyes Bird Observatory have continued the study of nesting populations on Mono Lake that was begun over 20 years ago. Snowy Plovers also arrive at Mono Lake each spring to nest along the remote eastern shores.

Important species residing in Mono Lake

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Lake alkali flies
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Larus californicus

Native people of Mono Lake

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Captain John. Leader of the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes
The early people of Mono Lake were called the Kutzadika'a who were the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes. Mono Lake Paiutes cultivated alkali fly larvae called kutsavi in their language. Mono Lake was also referred to as Teniega Bah. The origin of the term "Mono Lake" is unknown[7]. Apparently, "Mono" is a Yokut term for "fly eater". The Kutzadika'a did not use the term "Mono".

During early contact the first known chief was Captain John. He was also referred to by the Paiute names of Shibana or Poko Tucket. Captain John was the son of another Paiute named the older Captain John.

The Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes would also camp yearly at Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite Valley, and along the Merced River to gather acorns and different plant species.

Cultural history

In Mark Twain's Roughing It (1872), chapter 38 and chapter 39 provide a humorous but informative early description of Mono Lake in its natural condition in the 1860s.

The general appearance of the lake and surrounding mountains circa 1973 can also be seen in the film, High Plains Drifter.

The Diver, a photo taken by Storm Thorgerson for Pink Floyd's album Wish You Were Here, features what appears to be a man diving into a lake, creating no ripples. The photo was taken at Mono Lake, and the tufa towers are a prominent part of the landscape. The effect was actually created when the diver performed a yoga handstand underwater until the ripples dissipated.

See also

References

1. ^ Birds of the Basin: the Migratory Millions of Mono. Mono Lake Committee. Retrieved on 2007-05-12.
2. ^ Carle, David (2004). Introduction to Water in California. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
3. ^ Monthly Lake Levels. Mono Lake Committee. Retrieved on 2004.
4. ^ Mono Lake FAQ. Mono Lake Committe. Retrieved on 2007-05-12.
5. ^ Living in an Alkaline Environment. Retrieved on 2004.
6. ^ Mono Lake. Ecoscenario. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
7. ^ Kutzadika'a People. Mono Lake Committee. Retrieved on 2006-04-02.

External links

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Monomictic lakes are holomictic lakes that mix from top to bottom during one mixing period each year. Monomictic lakes may be subdivided into two types:

1) Cold Monomictic lakes are lakes that are covered by ice throughout much of the year.
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The California Water Wars describes the disputes between Los Angeles, California and the Owens Valley over water rights. The disputes stem from Los Angeles's location in a semi-arid area, and the availability of water from Sierra Nevada runoff in the Owens Valley.
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Evaporation is the process by which molecules in a liquid state (e.g. water) spontaneously become gaseous (e.g. water vapor), without being heated to boiling point. It is the opposite of condensation.
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A drainage basin is a region of land where water from rain or snow melt drains downhill into a body of water, such as a river, lake, dam, estuary, wetland, sea or ocean. The drainage basin includes both the streams and rivers that convey the water as well as the land surfaces from
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Negit Island<nowiki />

Aerial photo of Negit Island. As of 2004, the land bridge shown in the photo has submerged.

Geography <nowiki/>
Location Mono Lake, California
Coordinates
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alkali (from Arabic: Al-Qalyالقلي, القالي ) is a basic, ionic salt of an alkali metal or alkaline earth metal element.
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Salt Lake may refer to:

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ecosystem is a natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms in an area functioning together with all the non-living physical factors of the environment.
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Long Valley Caldera is a depression in eastern California that is adjacent to Mammoth Mountain. The valley is one of the largest calderas on earth, measuring about 32 kilometres long (east-west) and 17 kilometres wide (north-south).
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    pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Aqueous solutions at 25 ℃ with a pH less than seven are considered acidic, while those with a pH greater than seven are considered basic (alkaline). The pH of 7.
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    Mono-Inyo Craters in California, U.S.A., are a nearly straight line of small volcanoes that stretch from Mammoth Mountain and Long Valley Caldera in the south to Mono Lake in the north.
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    Long Valley Caldera is a depression in eastern California that is adjacent to Mammoth Mountain. The valley is one of the largest calderas on earth, measuring about 32 kilometres long (east-west) and 17 kilometres wide (north-south).
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    Sierra Nevada

    Little Lakes Valley: typical eastside terrain


    Country | United States
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    The Basin and Range Province is a particular type of topography that covers much of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico that is typified by elongate north-south trending arid valleys bounded by mountain ranges which also bound adjacent valleys.
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    Negit Island<nowiki />

    Aerial photo of Negit Island. As of 2004, the land bridge shown in the photo has submerged.

    Geography <nowiki/>
    Location Mono Lake, California
    Coordinates
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    Panum Crater is a volcanic cone that is part of the Mono-Inyo Craters, a chain of recent volcanic cones south of Mono Lake and east of the Sierra Nevada, in California, USA.
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    Rhyolite is an igneous, volcanic (extrusive) rock, of felsic (acidic) composition (typically >69% SiO2 — see the TAS classification. It may have any texture from aphanitic to porphyritic.
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    cinder cone or scoria cone is a steep, conical hill of volcanic fragments that accumulate around and downwind from a volcanic vent.[1] The rock fragments, often called cinders or scoria, are glassy and contain numerous gas bubbles "frozen" into place as magma
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    tributary (or confluent/affluent) is a stream or river which flows into a mainstem (or parent) river, and which does not flow directly into a sea. In orography, tributaries are ordered from those nearest to the source of the river to those nearest to the mouth of the
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    The California Water Wars describes the disputes between Los Angeles, California and the Owens Valley over water rights. The disputes stem from Los Angeles's location in a semi-arid area, and the availability of water from Sierra Nevada runoff in the Owens Valley.
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    aqueduct is an artificial channel that is constructed to convey water from one location to another. The word is derived from the Latin aqua, "water," and ducere, "to lead.
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    The Mono Basin is an endorheic basin located East of Yosemite National Park in California, United States. It is bordered to the West by the Sierra Nevada, to the East by the Cowtrack Mountains, to the North by the Bodie Hills, and to the South by the North ridge of the Long Valley
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