Notes On ' Death Valley '

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Ashleigh Hartsock Death Valley Patterned ground in Death Valley “Salt can be thought of as the warm form of ice. In some extreme cases, geologists that go to Death Valley substitute salt into their lemonade as a refreshing treat.” – Gabriel Chevalier Patterned ground, which refers to a “ground whose surface has developed orderly patterns, such as polygons, circles, steplike forms (terracettes), and stripes” (Hunt, Charles B., Robinson, Bowles, Washburn; B104), is characteristic of and reaches a great level of development in areas of intense frost action, such as high-latitude and alpine regions (Washburn, 1956). However, while patterned ground is particularly developed in areas of intense frost action, this feature can also be seen in…show more content…
al.; 1966). In fact, Hunt (1975) states that “since the ground patterns of the two regions are similar, salt can be thought of as the warm form of ice.” In the saltpan of Death Valley and the surrounding floodplain similarities of patterned ground between these two types of regions can be seen, and will be further described in this paper. Patterned Ground of Death Valley: The patterned ground morphologies, characteristic of playa environments, which formed as a result of the expansion and contraction of saline-rich sediments, are similar to such crack morphologies seen in periglacial environments, as a result of freeze-thaw cycles. In periglacial environments the extent of development of patterned grounds is proportional to the intensity of frost action, while in playa environments; the extent of patterned ground is proportional to salt content (Hunt, et. al.; 1966). The prominent patterned ground morphology among colder climates is ice-wedge polygons that develop on the permanently frozen ground. Similarly to the permanently frozen grounds of periglacial environments, a salt hardened ground in a playa environment can develop extensive polygonal crack morphologies (Hunt, et. al.; 1966). In desert regions, such as Death Valley, desiccation cracks that lead to the formation of polygonal systems are the most prominent crack morphologies. The general rapid drying of fine grained sediments within the Death Valley Basin leads to
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