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Strange Beauty: Photos Reveal Tufa Towers of Mono Lake

Whimsical Towers

tufa towers in mono Lake

(Image credit: Credit: chatursunil | shutterstock)

These pale gray and ivory "tufa towers," located in California's Mono Lake, may look like eerie art instillations, but they occur naturally and are made of limestone. Check out more of these fantastical towers.

Moonlit Mono Lake

tufa towers in mono Lake

(Image credit: Arvind Balaraman | shutterstock)

Tufa, the unusual rock formations that jut out of Mono Lake in California's Eastern Sierra, are famous for their otherworldly beauty. The greatest concentration of these unique "towers" is located at the south end of the lake. In the photo above, the moon rises over one of the dark ivory towers.

Limestone Buildup

tufa towers in mono Lake

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Made of limestone, tufa forms as a byproduct of the precipitation of carbonate minerals from surrounding water. When water from heated underwater hot springs rich in calcium meet with the carbonates in lake water, the result is calcium carbonate, also known as limestone.

Sun Over Tufa

tufa towers in mono Lake

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The uncanny tufa formations take on a golden appearance at sunset.

A Chilling Scene

tufa towers in mono Lake

(Image credit: Arvind Balaraman | shutterstock)

The formations look especially eerie in this photo, taken during a cool autumn morning.

Daybreak

tufa towers in mono Lake

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Another strangely beautiful early morning shot of the tufa formations, with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background.

By the Shore

tufa towers in mono Lake

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The tufa towers rise like giant sand castles, peeking above Mono Lake's surface.

Tufa Towers

tufa towers in mono Lake

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The odd shapes that tufa take can sometimes resemble coral. Towers like these were once submerged, but gradually began to become visible as water was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct and the surface level of Mono Lake fell.

White Stone, Pink Mountains

tufa towers in mono Lake

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hown at sunrise.Mono Lake is what remains of a much larger Pleistocene lake known as Lake Russell, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Here, the lake is shown at sunrise.

Grown Over

tufa towers in mono Lake

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Mono Lake's tall grasses and shrubbery are shown growing along the bottom of this tufa formation.

Surreal Landscape

tufa towers in mono Lake

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The delicate white tufa towers formed where freshwater springs percolate up from the bottom of the lake.