The Strange Beauty of Salt Mines
Salt, an essential element for all animal life, is abundant here on Earth, but it still requires extraction from stone deposits or salty waters. The process of mining that salt can produce beautiful landscapes, including deep, stable caverns, multicolored pools of water, and geometric carvings. Some of these locations have even become tourist destinations, serving as concert halls, museums, and health spas touting the benefits of halotherapy. Collected here are images of salt mines across the world, above and below ground.
One of the colorful brine pools that are part of a lithium salt pilot plant on the Uyuni salt lake, which holds the world's largest reserve of lithium, located at 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above sea level in southwestern Bolivia, on November 5, 2012. (Reuters/David Mercado)
An aerial view of the brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat, the world's second largest salt flat, in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, on January 10, 2013. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado) #
A saltwater pond in Nemocon's salt mine in Nemocon, Cundinamarca, Colombia on November 22, 2012. The mine, 80 meters deep, with over 500 years of history, has become a new tourist destination in Colombia. (Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images) #
Tourists visit The Saint Kinga's Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland, on December 15, 2011. According to the Supervisory Board of the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the historic mine extends for a total of about 300 km (186 miles) and functioned continuously since the Middle Ages until 1996 when the salt bed ceased to be exploited completely. The mine, which is on the UNESCO's Cultural and Natural Heritage list, currently serves tourism, museum and health purposes. (Reuters/Kacper Pempel) #
Two employees of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in storage chamber number 7 in the former salt mine Asse in Remlingen, Germany, on Wednesday, June 24, 2009. The former mine is used as a deep geological repository for radioactive waste.(AP Photo/Joerg Sarbach) #
A worker walks through pools of salt at the Maras salt mines in Cuzco, Peru, on July 3, 2009. The Maras mines have been a source of salt since ancient pre-Incan civilizations and nowadays comprise about 3,000 small pools constructed on the slope of a mountain at the Urubamba valley in the Andean region of Cuzco. (Reuters/Enrique Castro-Mendivil) #
Pools of salt at the Maras mines in Cuzco, Peru, on February 17, 2010. (Reuters/Enrique Castro-Mendivil) #
A tourist takes pictures inside Praid Salt Mine, 350 km (215 miles) north of Bucharest, on March 4, 2013. A part of the mine, located 160 meters deep and 1.3 km from the entrance, is open to tourists and is also used as therapy for respiratory problems such as bronchitis or asthma, having a highly ionized air and a higher atmospheric pressure than on the surface. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti) #
Salt layers reflect in the inner lake of Turda salt mine in Turda city (450km northwest of Bucharest), on December 9, 2010. One of the most important salt mines in Transylvania, central Romania, Salina Turda has been known since ancient times, but was put into operation for underground mining work during the Roman period. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images) #
A small boat quay on a lake at the bottom of Turda salt mine in Turda city, Romania, on December 9, 2010.(Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images) #
An aerial view of the salt fields of Palibelo village, on the outskirts of Bima, on Indonesia's Sumbawa island, on November 22, 2012.(Reuters/Beawiharta) #
Ethiopia's Danakil salt pan, near the Dallol volcano, on November 29, 2004. Dallol is unique in the world because is the only volcano situated below the sea level in Danakil depression, also known as Afar, one of the hottest places in the world with temperatures sometimes over 60 degrees Celsius in the sun. (Reuters/Michel Laplace-Toulouse) #
A camel caravan at the edge of the salt pan in Ethiopia's Danakil depression, near Dallol volcano, on November 29, 2004.(Reuters/Michel Laplace-Toulouse) #
People collect blocks of salt from the salt pan of Ethiopia's Danakil depression, on January 29, 2007. Generations of Afar salt merchants have hauled blocks of salt along treacherous camel caravan routes from the depression to the Tigray highlands.(Reuters/Michel Laplace-Toulouse) #
Tourists guarded by local policemen visit sulphur and mineral salt formations created by the upwelling springs of Dallol volcanom on January 29, 2007. (Reuters/Michel Laplace-Toulouse) #
A mountain biker competes in the 21st "Extrem Mountainbike Race", on November 17, 2007 in the "Glueck Auf" pit of a former salt mine in Sondershausen, Germany. Around 50 athletes took part in the competition at a depth of 800 meters, where temperatures are at 30 degrees Celsius (86 F), and humidity reaches only 20 percent. (Jens-Ulrich Koch/AFP/Getty Images) #
A salt waterfall in the Nemocon salt mine, on September 26, 2012. The mine is one of Colombia's most popular tourist attractions.(Reuters/Jose Miguel Gomez) #
The Donbas Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Austrian Kurt Schmid, plays in a salt mine chamber - 300 meters deep, 120 meters long, and 30 meters tall during a concert in Soligorsk, Donetsk region, Belarus, on October 2, 2004. The concert was organized in the mine for its good acoustics. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images) #
A halite salt crystal in the shape of a heart, illuminated from within, in the Nemocon salt mine in Colombia, on September 26, 2012.(Reuters/Jose Miguel Gomez) #
A laborer works at a salt production factory in Nangqian county, northwest China's Qinghai province, on July 24, 2007.(Reuters/Simon Zo) #
Pools of mineral-colored water gathered on salt flats in holes dug by salt collectors on the Senegalese coastline near the border with Gambia, on June 12, 2006. Women collect salt by hand into 50kg (110lbs) sacks, which sell for about $2, and are traded with neighboring Gambia and Mauritania, where salt is mainly used for preserving fish in areas without electricity. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
Miners walk in the Polkowice-Sieroszowice salt mine in Polkowice near Lubin, Poland, on July 29, 2011. (Reuters/Kacper Pempel) #
Part of the salt sculpture The Last Supper is pictured at The Saint Kinga's Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland, on December 15, 2011. (Reuters/Kacper Pempel) #
A woman walks across salt flats being cultivated for the white crystals near the village of Ngaye-Ngaye, 10 km (6 mi) south of Senegal's northern town of Saint Louis, on April 9, 2007. Some 3,000 people, mostly women, spend long hours under the blinding sun scraping up salt with sticks and their hands, earning the equivalent of a dollar or two per day. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly) #
A truck drives between ponds at Rio Tinto's Dampier Salt Limited's production facility at Port Hedland, about 1,600 km (960 mi) north of Perth, Australia, on May 26, 2008. (Reuters/Tim Wimborne) #
The underground Lake Wessel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, on July 10, 2007 in Poland. (Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images) #
Abid, a laborer covered in salt powder, poses for a photograph while cutting rock salt for decoration pieces in Khewra, Pakistan, on August 4, 2007. The Khewra Salt Mines are said to be the second largest salt mine in the world. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
Mohammad Shabbir, 36, applies the final touches to a sculpture made from rock salt on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, on June 29, 2011. (Reuters/Mani Rana) #
Workers build a hotel of salt blocks on the Salar de Uyuni, the world's biggest salt desert, in southwestern Bolivia, on July 14, 2007.(Reuters/Jose Luis Quintana) #
A visitor offers prayers in a mosque made of salt bricks inside Pakistan's centuries-old Khewra salt mine, on March 30, 2010. The centuries-old salt mine is offering experimental allergic-related asthma therapy, attracting patients from all over the world. Clinics claim that asthma patients and sufferers of other respiratory illnesses benefit from inhaling antibacterial salt particles in a sterile environment, helping loosen mucus and clear the lung passages. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash) #
A worker's son plays in a salt pan near Bhavnagar, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, on March 5, 2009. (Reuters/Arko Datta)
Photographer Sergey Anashkevych was travelling across Crimea by train when he spotted a remarkable sight.
Alongside the train in one location were vast expanses of coloured salt flats stretching into the distance in a place known as Sivash, or the Rotten Sea.
With camera in hand the Crimean returned to the location after his journey and managed to capture the remarkable photos you can see here.
Sparkling red water contrasts with the clear blue sky at a derelict salt field in Crimea, where the wooden structures of an old mine remain. Photographer Sergey Anashkevych, 36, decided to explore the multi-coloured landscape after seeing it from a train
Salt is one of the biggest export products from Crimea, while chemical industry accounts for 20.6% of industrial output in the region.
When the island was part of the Soviet Union, this particular region was mined for brine, which forms when ground water reacts with rock salt.
Now the salt flats are abandoned, but what is left are an incredible series of lakes brimming with the remnants of a once-extensive industry. The Rotten Sea is so-called because of the smell produced there. The lake of Sivash is very shallow, with an average depth of 1.6 to 3.2 feet (0.5 to one metres).
At the base of the lake, though, is a layering of silt up to 16.4 feet (five metres) thick, giving the waters a salinity of up to 87 per cent. In the summer the waters heat up and evaporate, producing the smell.
It is estimated that there are 200 million tonnes of salts at the location.
The entire area is 990 square miles (2,560 square kilometres), although this particular mine makes up only a small section of that.
In the absence of humans the water continues to produce salt mushrooms and flowers around old wooden pillars as it evaporates in the heat
Lake Sivash is found in Crimea and is also known as the Rotten Sea due to the foul smell produced by the layers of silt under the water
The wooden structures were once used as walkways to traverse the various salt flats but now they lie derelict and unused
The unique natural phenomenon of the red water is thanks to Dunaliella algae which multiplies rapidly when it has access to extremely salty water
In the images sparking red water at the derelict salt ponds contrasts with the clear blue sky. The phenomenon is thanks to the rose-tinted Halobacteria algae, which multiples rapidly when it has access to extremely salty water.
The salt field was mined for brine when it was part of the USSR for use in industry, but now huge salt crystals have formed on the abandoned lake.
It is well known to locals but hardly ever frequented by tourists.
‘It’s just a stunning place,’ says 36-year-old Anashkevych from Sevastopol. It is hard to explain the feelings and to describe and to describe the emotions.
‘The air is very humid there and very salty, and because of the salt in the air you get the feeling that the air is sticky. And everything gets covered by this sticky thin film – skin, clothes, equipment – everything.
‘The only other problem is the smell – you can’t call it pleasant.’
The slat flats were divided into geometric squares when the old mine was still operational
The region is thought to still have about 200 million tons of salt, although in areas such as this it is lying unused
Sergey Anashkevych travelled to the location at dawn so he could catch the sun's light reflecting off the water
To capture these stunning photos Aneshkevych used a variety of cameras and equipment.
These include a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Mark II and a Canon EF 15/2.8 FishEye.
The salt fields are all geometric squares, built this way for ease of access.
Around the squares are wooden structures that were used by workers to walk around them. The water is about ankle deep and on the wood can be seen the effects of evaporation where salt has been left behind.
A special flow chute can be seen which was used to channel water to and from certain areas.
The salt appears to bloom like flowers and mushrooms around the wooden pillars as the evaporation process continues unabated
The water is mostly about ankle deep, but some sections are drained due to the channels that were built in the days of the old mine
Although the area is popular with locals it is not so well known with tourists, making Anashkevych's accidental discovery all the more impressive
To create the salt, water was fed into different areas and, when it naturally evaporated, salt would be left on the ground for collection.
The gateways no longer work, though, due to corrosion.Now, water moves the fields as it pleases, being replenished by rain.
Not all of the flats are red, however. Some are a blue-white-black mud where the water has disappeared completely.
Where the water has pooled, some of the old walkways have disappeared from view almost completely.
By photographing the flats at dawn, Sergey was also able to chronicle the impressive spectacle of sunlight gleaming off them.
The end product is one of the best collections of colourful photography you're ever going to see.
Toiling fewer than 40ft under the ocean floor, the men knew that one false pick stroke could be their last. With the roar of the sea in their ears, these brave miners were forced to tunnel closer and closer to the surface in their quest for tin. Stretching for more than a century, the dangerous work to extract metal from seams located under the Cornish coastline claimed many lives and was only ended by economic concerns.
Gateway to the mines below the sea: The Crown Mines in operation in the 1860s. From this site a shaft was dug reaching 240 fathoms or 480 yards below the sea and workers could hear the waves crash above their head as they toiled
Relic of the past: The Crown Mines in Botallack were built in 1815 and closed a century later in 1914. Pictured is the remains of an engine house today. Now, the seabed near Land's End in west Cornwall is to be dredged to capture tin washed out there by the prolific land-based mines which operated nearby. But beneath the ocean floor lies a vast labyrinth of tunnels extending more than a mile out to sea. The greatest concentration of tin and copper submarine mining in the world is located a few miles from Land’s End, notably the mines of Botallack, Levant and Geevor. These run from west to east, and from earliest to most recent. The largest of these was Levant which was in operation for almost a century during the 1800s, and then assimilated into Geevor which was one of the last mines in Cornwall to close down in 1990. Yet the history of coastal mining in Cornwall stretches across the millennia, beginning in the Bronze Age, approximately three and a half thousand years ago. One of the most important finds substantiating this claim is the discovery at the cliff top Kenidjack Castle, near Botallack, west Cornwall, where 30 pieces of copper and smelted tin, along with axes of high tin content were excavated around this now-dilapidated fortress.
The ‘Widow-Maker’ Drill: Deadly rock dust was created by such rock drills, powered by compressed air, before water jets were devised to absorb the lethal floating residue. Pictured right is a map of the submarine mines at Geevor, Levant and Botallack
More than 60 miles of intersecting tunnels lie beneath the Atlantic. In Levant, a blind miner often helped others navigate when their candles failed
Further evidence of this rich history is provided by the 4th Century BC Greek explorer Pytheas who visited the area of Land’s End, or ‘Belerian’, describing the courteous inhabitants’ production of tin and its subsequent haul to an island named ‘Ictis’, believed to be St. Michael’s Mount near Penzance, for international trade.
There is evidence of mining in Botallack from ancient times, but the first records show a date of 1721. The ‘sett’ (area) of Botallack includes one of the most picturesque and romantic mines in the area: the Crown Mines.
These engine houses are still perched perilously close to the sea upon an outcrop of rocks at the foot of the cliff.
More striking still is the fact that from this post extends a diagonal shaft reaching down over 240 fathoms or 480 yards below sea level and extending almost the same distance out beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
Modern submarine mining: The sub-incline shaft allowing access to Levant from Geevor. It was completed by 1977 and officially opened by the Queen in 1980 who braved its descent
New mine: A diver plugging the breach at the ¿40 Backs¿ area in the 1960s where the sea had infiltrated into the submarine levels of Levant. This was an unprecedented and award-winning engineering feat
Levant Beam Engine: A steam engine built in 1840, its claim to fame being that it is the oldest Cornish mine engine which also has remained in situ, and is to this day operational
From the mid 19th century tourists would flock to these Crowns and some would even attempt a submarinal descent.
The most famous of these visitors being the Prince and Princess of Wales – or more appropriately the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall – in 1865, who were staying at St. Michael’s Mount.
As technology progressed with the Industrial Revolution, greater depths could be mined as water could be mechanically pumped out in larger quantities than buckets permitted.
Mechanised fans also allowed for ventilation which was always an issue for submarine mining because ventilation shafts could not emerge vertically into air as they could inland.
Levant, nicknamed ‘The Mine Under the Sea’, made effective use of this technology, becoming a leviathan in the mining industry. By 1820 it had submarine mines.
One of its engines is to this day still ‘in steam’ and it can be witnessed by visiting the mine, now a tourist attraction run by the National Trust.
However, despite this technological progress, conditions were still dangerous and toiling for the miners. Temperatures rose as miners descended with heat recorded at 30C at the deepest levels of 350 fathoms or 700 yards below sea level.
Another fear for submarine miners was of course the incursion of the sea itself. At Levant lies an infamous level or tunnel known as the ’40 Backs’, named so because it ran a mere 40 feet from the seabed.
In fact, the tunnel moved even closer to the seabed when miners followed a ‘lode’ or vein of ore, veering upwards. Some miners, known as tributers, would be paid according to the value of the ore they yielded – rather than ‘tut workers’ who were paid per fathom plunged – so their profit and danger ran parallel at this point.
Here they could hear the crashing of the waves and the thuds of boulders being thrown around by the power of the currents above. Eventually the danger outweighed the potential profits, and the place was abandoned.
In 1919, however, disaster did strike Levant. The so-called ‘man engine’ – essentially an ingenious vacillating rod-lift carrying miners into and out of the lower depths – when fully manned, became crippled and smashed down through its deep shaft, killing thirty-one men and injuring many more.
Rusting now: The Skip Shaft lift at Levant (left). Ponies were sent through this shaft, tail first with legs tied to their bodies due to the shaft’s narrow width. They would remain working under the mine for years. Pictured right, pPart of the derelict machinery before the headgear of Victory Shaft, Geevor
Into the abyss: The Skip Shaft at Levant reaching down almost half a mile at 290 fathoms. The tragedy was the death knell of Levant mining, and was a substantial factor in its eventual closure in 1930. More than two decades prior to this a mine known as North Levant had become independent and renamed itself to Geevor. It outlived its southerly parent becoming very prosperous aided by the enhanced technology that the 20th Century provided.
In the 1960s Geevor decided to extend its mining to submarine regions when it was realised that much more valuable tin and copper were waiting out there rather than inland.
Living history: Some of the tunnels are now accessible to the public at Geevor Tin Mine
Dripping: Submarine mining became possible with the advent of mechanised pumps draining the tunnels from the water constantly seeping through the earth
Geevor’s matrix of tunnels would intersect with those undersea tunnels of Levant but first a problem needed remedying: it was discovered that after Levant mine had closed, the sea had indeed infiltrated its submarine tunnelling. The leak was at the fragile 40 Backs area.
An unprecedented operation involving divers from Imperial College, London, and a 35-ton ex-Admiralty vessel, was set in motion to plug the breach. This was finally completed in 1969 with a total of 2,500 tons of cement being employed.
The submarine mines were dry and mining once again began.
Botallack Arsenic Labyrinth: As well as tin, copper and other metals, the mines also yielded arsenic. Any arsenic in the ore turned into a gas which then flowed into this labyrinth; there it cooled and solidified into arsenic crystals which could be recovered and sold
Exposed: A precarious cliff entrance to the submarine labyrinth, or ¿Lambreth¿ in the local dialect, that lies beyond the waves at Levant
Stunning: The picturesque Levant mine overlooking the Celtic Sea, part of the Atlantic. This area has recently been designated as a World Heritage Site along with the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, and the Acropolis in Athens
By 1977 Geevor had tunnelled a sub-incline shaft for good access to these depths, a shaft that was officially opened by The Queen in1980. Before this unveiling, Her Majesty, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Andrew, had ventured down the shaft themselves in a similar manner to their forebears.
Despite the wealth of copper, tin and other metals that lay there, Geevor had to close in 1990 due to the collapse of the global price of tin. However, Geevor now acts as a museum where visitors can not only access the industrial complex above ground but where they can also enter the shafts themselves.
The submarine mines, however, cannot be accessed because they are once more submerged, not with sea water but with land drainage: once the pumps had stopped, rain water gradually made its way down into those deep 60 miles of submarine tunnelling – dormant now but perhaps awaiting a new era of good tin pricing and technology capable of once again exploiting the treasures that lie hundreds of fathoms under the sea.
Furthest west? The scenic Cape Cornwall just to the west of Botallack, crowned by a mine chimney. Until two centuries ago this cape was considered to be the Land¿s End
Tourist spot: The Crown Mines at Botallack. Visitors have been flocking to this beauty spot for almost two centuries
Precarious path: The Botallack Crown Mines glistening over the Atlantic Ocean
Beacon: Pendeen Lighthouse would have been a familiar sight to miners at Levant and then Geevor from the beginning of the 20th Century
Utah avalanche that carried enough rock to bury New York's Central Park under 66ft of rubble is declared largest in modern history
An avalanche that struck near near Salt Lake City last year carrying enough rock to bury New York's Central Park under 66 feet of rubble was North America's largest such disaster in modern history, it has emerged.
Scientists at the University of Utah, say the April 2013 landslide sent 165 million tons of debris into a pit nearly a mile deep, where it cracked bedrock and triggered unprecedented earthquakes.
Miraculously no one was killed or injured by the avalanche but it shut down a copper mine, burying 14 trucks and led to a series of layoffs and buyouts at Kennecott Utah Copper Corp.
Landslide: The avalanche which struck near a copper mine in Bingham Canyon, Utah last year was North America's largest such disaster in modern history
The company, which employed 2,100 employees, had been looking to reduce costs with layoffs ever since a massive landslide hit the Bingham Canyon Mine. Jeff Moore, assistant professor of geology and geophysics st the university said: 'We don't know of any case until now where landslides have been shown to trigger earthquakes.
'It was a creeping movement that had been developing over many months along an old fault line,"'Moore said Tuesday. Kennecott had been monitoring the area and evacuated workers ahead of the danger, he said.
The disaster didn't involve a volcanic explosion and was actually a pair of related slides about 90 minutes apart, said Moore, who co-authored the study together with Kris Pankow, associate director of the university's seismograph stations.
Aftermath: A mining truck hauls rock from the Kennecott Copper Corp. owned Bingham Canyon Mine after the April 10 landslide
Quitting time: The Bingham Canyon Mine has been operating as a mine for over 100 years. The current company that owns the mine offered early retirement plans to older workers in order to reduce costs after an April landslide severely diminished production
The peer-reviewed research was published Monday in the Geological Society of America's magazine, GSA Today.
The debris slides falling as fast as 100 mph crashed to earth with such force that they registered as magnitude-5 earthquakes and then triggered 16 smaller quakes where the bedrock cracked, Moore said.
Mother Nature has put on bigger shows, the scientists noted. The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington unleashed a landslide 57 times larger than Kennecott's.
Another slide about 8,000 years ago at the mouth of Zion Canyon in southern Utah was five times as large.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2535823/Utah-avalanche-carried-rock-bury-New-Yorks-Central-Park-66ft-rubble-declared-largest-modern-history.html#ixzz2pryNRnmE