tufa formations

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#mypubliclandsroadtrip watches the sun set at the Trona Pinnacles, one of the most unusual geologic wonders in the California Desert. 

This landscape consists of more than 500 tufa (calcium carbonate) pinnacles rising from the bed of the Searles Dry Lake basin. These tufa spires were formed underwater, 10,000 to 100,000 years ago, when Searles Lake established a link in an interconnected chain of Pleistocene lakes stretching from Mono Lake to Death Valley. 

Did you know? Geologically the pinnacles are classified into four general shapes - towers, tombstones, ridges and cones.

  • Towers are taller than they are wide and rise 30 to 40 feet.  Look for pointed, rounded or flat summits. 
  • Tombstones are stubby and squat and rise 20 to 30 feet.
  • Ridges are massive, toothy and tufa runs.  Trona Pinnacles has three ridges.  One ridge is 800 feet long, 500 feet wide and 140 feet tall.
  • Cones are less than 10 feet tall. Dumpy and mounded cone shapes lay scattered throughout the Trona Pinnacles

The Trona Pinnacles were designated by the Department of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark in 1968 to protect one of the nation’s best examples of tufa formation. Explore #yourlands!