Sand Tufa

Photograph by Larry Fellows, Arizona Geological Survey

With the snow-draped Sierra Nevada as a backdrop, unique erosion formations called sand tufa stand like giant cauliflower stalks in a dry Arizona lake bed. Before this alkaline lake went dry, tufa formed when a freshwater spring percolated from below and formed calcium carbonate deposits. When the lake's level dropped, these fragile formations surfaced, and wind went to work removing the sand beneath the deposits.