Orbital View: Purple Puddles

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

No grids, just pretty #utah #instadaily #colors Update : potash ponds!

A photo posted by The Jefferson Grid (@the.jefferson.grid) on

Okay, they’re a lot bigger than your average puddle: These spring-colored plots are actually ponds of potash, a potassium-containing salt used in farm fertilizers. Suzy Strutner has more in the Huffington Post:

Workers pump the potash from way below the Earth’s surface into the ground-level ponds, where sun evaporates the pond water and leaves potash behind. The water is dyed an eye-catching blue so that it’ll absorb heat and evaporate more quickly, a process that typically takes about 300 days. Some passersby have found it jarring when, seemingly out of nowhere, the mine pools make a surreal stark contrast to the mostly unspoiled landscape.

Happy spring, y’all!

(See all Orbital Views here)