The following is a brief history of the Mono Lake litigation. Mono Lake is a striking blue oasis in the eastern California surrounded by desert peaks, volcanoes, and the Sierra Nevada. Although the lake will likely never fully recover to its pre-diversion levels, lake levels have steadily risen and target lake levels may be reached by the end of the decade. All Rights Reserved. This made recovery difficult for individual miners and by the early 1860’s, most of the mineral claims were consolidated by large hydraulic mining companies. During this time in the Earth’s history, the region’s climate was cooler and wetter, limiting evaporation from the lake and providing abundant precipitation. Mono Lake lies within Mono Basin and is a remnant of a much larger prehistoric body of water called Lake Russell (named after a geologist). With a yearly evaporation rate of 45 inches (nearly four feet) the lake level quickly dropped, going from an elevation of 6,417 feet above sea level to a low point of 6,372 feet above sea level. Without adequate inflow and recharge from the runoff, evaporation quickly caused lake levels to drop and water salinity levels to increase. Extension, or pulling apart, of the Earth’s crust has created north/south trending mountain ranges flanked by deep, long valleys. None of the town’s buildings are still standing, although remnants of the water ditch and the scars of hydraulic mining are still apparent throughout Rattlesnake Canyon. Today, several of the large tufa towers are now nesting sites for predatory Osprey and bird watching is strongly encouraged. Benson, L. V., & Thompson, R. S. (1987). Water from Virginia Creek was transported to the arid Monoville area for large-scale hydraulic mining. Talbot, M. R. (1990). © 2020 Mammoth Lakes Tourism. But it was the plight of Mono Lake’s birds that drew the most public outrage. Benson, L. V., Currey, D. R., Dorn, R. I., Lajoie, K. R., Oviatt, C. G., Robinson, S. W., Smith, G. I., & Stine, S. (1990). and 1850 C.E. Not sure where to start when planning your trip? Correlation of late-Pleistocene lake-level oscillations in Mono Lake, California, with North Atlantic climate events. It became the focus of a major environmental battle from the 1970s to the 1990s. The walkway along Mona Lake provides an ideal fishing area. We went to the South Tufas and walked the trail. It was formed as a sublacustral (below lake level) basaltic cone about 13,300 years ago when the water level at Mono Lake was higher. Gas exchange rates for three closed-basin lakes. An easy trail and boardwalk lead to the lake. (2001). Stable isotope studies on Mono Lake (California). A portion of northern Mono County contributed to the formation of Alpine County in 1864; parts of the county's territory were given to Inyo County in 1866.. Temperature dependence of 18O. Evaporation induced 18 O and 13 C enrichment in lake systems: a global perspective on hydrologic balance effects. Since it was formed, the lake has supported a unique ecosystem that includes algae, brine shrimp and millions of migratory and nesting birds. These ‘modern’ eruptions formed the Paoha Island in the center of the lake, which is now an important breeding ground for a variety of song and sea birds. Geologists recognize at least 11 episodes of ice advance. Along the southern shoreline of Mono Lake, large tufa towers or pinnacles rise above the water’s surface. Mono Lake History. Volcanic activity has been ongoing in the Mono Lake Basin for at least the past 2.5 to 3 million years. In the early 1940’s, Eastern Sierra runoff water that would have naturally fed Mono Lake was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct system. FINALLY. Benson, L., Lund, S., Negrini, R., Linsley, B., & Zic, M. (2003). These climatic conditions likely persisted until the end of the latest ice age (around 11,000 years ago), when Mono Lake reached it’s greatest depth of 900 ft. At the termination of this ice age, the climate naturally shifted to drier, warmer conditions and the alpine ice sheets became extinct, cutting off a major supply of fresh water to the basin. The Mono Lake Committee, a science-driven nonprofit, runs a bookstore in the lakeshore community of Lee Vining. In the middle of Mono Lake are two islands, Negit and Paoha, where the most recent volcanic eruption in the area occurred about 300 years ago. Mono Lake is located north of In a massive explosion the volcano sent huge volumes of earth and ash into the sky and buried the surrounding area in hundreds of feet of volcanic debris. A California State Historic Marker indicates the location of the town site and summer visitors are reminded to be aware of the reptiles that inspired the canyon’s name. Sweeney, Mike (July 19, 2011). As a result of the eruption, the land collapsed, creating a 200 square mile depression known today as the Long Valley Caldera. You can also learn more about kayaking and canoeing on Mono Lake. In 1859, migrant prospectors discovered placer gold along the northwest shores of Mono Lake and the town Monoville instantly sprung up, quickly reaching a population of 1200 residents a year later. The Mono Lake Committee. Formed over one million years ago, the lake is one of North America’s oldest lakes. Mono Basin History Overview Mono Lake, an inland sea that is at least 760,000 years old dominates the landscape east of the Sierra Nevada crest between Yosemite National Park and the Nevada border. Its salinity doubled and the ecosystem approached collapse. The most recent volcanic eruptions, which occurred only 400 years ago, are related to the conical cinder cones of Mono Craters to the south of the lake (flanking U.S Route 395). Hence, studying lake levels can reveal information about climate change in the past and present. Although very little remains of the Monoville town site today, visitors can still get a grasp on the harsh conditions 19th-century miners endured when extracting natural resources in the west. It is an ancient lake, over 1 million years old -- one of the oldest lakes in North America. Later volcanism (around 2.5 million years ago) poured thick accumulations of molten rock (basalt) into the valleys, shaping the landscape and creati… The park has over 4000 feet on Lake Michigan, 2000 feet on the Mona Lake Channel and 1500 feet on Mona Lake. Equilibrium and nonequilibrium oxygen isotope effects in synthetic carbonates. The natural beauty of this desert water body is as diverse as its history. The Mono Lake Committee is inspired by a love for this beautiful place—where a remarkable salt lake lies at the center of a landscape and ecosystem unmatched. Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles. We did not go in the lake, as we did not have the proper shoes with us. The water is currently about twice the salinity of ocean water. In 1994, the California State Water Resources Control Board issued orders to protect the Mono Lake Basin in response to outcries by several conservation groups. The walking is easy, so this is good for kids or people who might need a non-strenuous trail. Mono Lake is the saline remnant of a much larger lake that filled the Mono basin during the Pleistocene. 6H2O: Cold comfort for glendonites as paleothermometers. Mono Lake, the oldest lake in North America, is naturally hypersaline and alkaline. By 1990, the lake had lost over half of its water volume and salinity levels doubled, creating an ecological disaster and health hazard (due to airborne alkaline dust) for the region. They accept your National Park pass for parking. Li., H.-C., Ku, T.-L., Stott, L. D. and Anderson, R. F. (1997). Today, you'll see the Hammond Station Restaurant in full operation. A small band of the Northern Paiute Tribe known as the Kucadikadi, or pupae eaters, were some of the first humans to inhabit the Mono Lake region. Lake sediments confirm that Mono Lake is older than the Long Valley eruption, which took place 760,000 years ago. A custom signature bridge was designed by world-renowned artist John Dunn and installed over the Andy Thompson Creek. Peng, T.-H. and Broecker, W. (1980). Water sourced from melting ice sheets located on the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountains flowed downslope and was captured by the basin. It is a terminal lake, meaning it has no outlet. By 1981 it was 46 feet below where it had been in 1940. Swimming in Mono Lake is certainly a unique experience you won’t forget. Chronology of expansion and contraction of four Great Basin lake systems during the past 35,000 years. Deprived of its freshwater sources, the lake dropped 45 vertical feet. Wrong! Mono Lake Created by Sarah Bordenstein, Marine Biological Laboratory. These iconic pillars, comprised of precipitated calcium carbonate, formed over thousands of years by the interaction of freshwater springs and the highly alkaline waters of Mono Lake. These indigenous people were primarily supported by the lake, obtaining a substantial amount of their nutrition from the larvae of the alkali flies that live in and around the muddy shorelines. Mono Lake is 2.5 times saltier than the ocean. Lake Harbor Park is a 189 acre park located on Lake Harbor Road, just north of the Mona Lake Channel. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Mono Lake, Learn how and when to remove this template message, http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ca5779, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, National Audubon Society v. Superior Court, Don't Know What You Got ('Till It's Gone), "Birds of the Basin: the Migratory Millions of Mono", U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lundy Canyon, 10.1306/d4269530-2b26-11d7-8648000102c1865d, "The onset of meromixis in Mono Lake: unintended consequences of reducing water diversions", "Weakening and near-breakdown of meromixis in Mono Lake", "Frequently Asked Questions About Mono Lake", "Newly Identified Nematodes from Mono Lake Exhibit Extreme Arsenic Resistance", "Kutzadika'a People: Living in Harmony with the Mono Basin", "California Indians and Their Reservations: K", "California Indians and Their Reservations", "Fortieth Annual Report of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles", "Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, 1981.10.1-2", "Floyd Extra! That shaped the Nevada and Eastern Sierra landscape over the Andy Thompson Creek oxygen, and. 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