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SF salt beds

I love it when my flight into the Bay Area takes me over the salt beds in the South Bay -- the color from the air is so brilliant, and each 'tile' of water is so distinct. They're not quite as impressive when viewed from the ground, partly because of the rotten aroma, though it is interesting to see the salt caked up on the retaining walls when you cross the Dumbarton Bridge.

I finally took the time to lookup more information about these salt beds and found out that they were started by Cargill Salt over a century ago, and many are still in active use today. The Cargill Web site has a brief virtual tour that explains some of the process of converting Bay water into the salt product.

In 2003, many of the salt beds were bought by the state/federal government to be turned back into wildlife refuge. The John Cang Photography site has a photo essay that shows the potential future of these salt beds, juxtaposing wildlife in the salt beds with the same wildlife enjoying the Palo Alto Baylands Preserve.

I also grabbed two images, one from Keyhole and the other from Cargill's site that you can compare. The shaded blue represents salt beds that are now under refuge status.


credit A Whole Lotta Nothing for reminding me of the topic (though his WAG may have a couple inaccuracies)

Comments (1)


Yeah, his WAG's pretty much wrong, given that they were and (some still) are salt production facilities, and the nice red color comes from the stuff that grows at high salinity.

I've walked through the salt pools by Chula Vista in San Diego County, and they're pretty cool up close. Gypsum deposits coat the entire bottom of some of the pools, and since the gypsum is translucent, photosynthetic microbes grow in a layer underneath. You can break a chunk off and have this nifty mineral deposit with green stuff growing right into it.

And there are sea monkeys (brine shrimp).

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