Decoding the Enigma of Utah’s Potash Ponds with Multicolored Brilliance

In the midst of the barren desert in Utah, is a collection of startling beautiful electric-blue ponds, creating a strange, otherwordly landscape.

You would not want to take a dip in these waters though as they are actually potash (salts that contain potassium) evaporation ponds, looked after by Intrepid Potash, the United States’ largest producer of potassium chloride.

The bizarre ponds provide a brilliantly blue contrast to the barren, red, Moab desert that surround them, with the colour providing the optimum aid for the absorption of sunlight and evaporation.

Brilliant blue! Colorado River water contrasts dramatically with the barren desert surrounding it, at a potash facility in Moab

Aerial view of the potash evaporation ponds, which contribute to the US’ largest supply of potassium chloride

As the sun evaporates the water in the pond, crystals of potassium and salt are left behind, which are gathered for production of the odourless chemical.

The potash source comes from the Paradox Basin, which has been there for an estimated 300 million years and sits 3,000 feet below the ground.

Extraction involves drilling wells into the mines and the pumping of hot water to dissolve the potassium.

Brine is drawn out of the mines to the surface and fed to the colourful pools, where the evaporation process begins.

The difference in the shades of blue is related to the amount of water that has evaporated.

The potash source comes from the Paradox Basin, which has been there for an estimated 300 million years and sits 3,000 feet below the ground

Cobalt blue dye is added to the water to aid in the absorption of sunlight and evaporation and gives it the striking blue colour

Although the supply is millions of years old, it was only tapped into in 1963 by the Texas Sulphur Company

The crystals are scraped from the ponds by machines, producing around 700 and 1,000 tons of potash per day from the mine.

The entire process takes a lengthy 300 days for the brine to dry into salt and potash crystals, and Intrepid Potash estimate there is at least 125 years before the ore supply runs out.

The vibrant blue colour contrasts with other reddish salt evaporation ponds, and this is due to an artificial dye that is added to the pond to aid evaporation.

The difference in the shades of blue is related to the amount of water that has evaporated

The crystals are scraped from the ponds by machines producing around 700 and 1,000 tons of potash per day from the mine

Although the supply is millions of years old, it was only tapped into in 1963 by the Texas Sulphur Company.

Tragically the year it opened a gas explosion resulted in 25 men being trapped underground, and 18 of them did not survive.

Nowadays the mining system does not require humans to venture underground for potash.

Solar ponds like the potash evaporation ponds can be seen all over the world with many different rainbow colours being produced.

These saltwater pools collect and store solar thermal energy and can be used for solar power generation, desalination and process heating.

The entire process takes a lengthy 300 days for the brine to dry into salt and potash crystals, and Intrepid Potash estimate there is at least 125 years before the ore supply runs out

Nowadays the mining system does not require humans to venture underground for potash

Bright blue solar evaporation ponds are seen Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah

Glorious green! A salt lake evaporation mining operations at Lake Qarhan China. Solar ponds like the potash evaporation ponds can be seen all over the world with many different rainbow colours being produced

Pretty purple! Salt pans and volcanoes in the background, near Yaiza, Lanzarote in Spain

Algae creates a spectrum of coloured ponds in the  salt evaporation ponds of Redwood City in San Francisco

From dull greens to vibrant reds and rich yellows, each salt pond contrasts to the ones around it, creating a beautiful display

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