Potassium Evaporation Ponds – Moab, Utah



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In order to extract potassium chloride, also known as potassium, from Utah's desert landscapes, Intrepid Potash, Inc. uses a series of evaporation pools whose dazzling blue waters contrast with the red desert that surrounds them.

Intrepid Potash, Inc. operates three potash mines in the United States, one in New Mexico and two in Utah. The most famous and most photographed of these locations is in Moab, Utah, where the blue potassium evaporation ponds provide a psychedelic vision in the otherwise reddish desert.

At the Moab mine, miners pump water from the Colorado River to the potassium ore, which is about 900 meters below the surface. The water dissolves the soluble potassium in a brine, which is then pumped into the underground caverns. Once fully dissolved, the potassium brine is pumped into one of the evaporation ponds. And that's when things get hectic.

The water in the evaporation ponds is dyed bright blue to help absorb more sunlight and heat. This reduces the time it takes for the potash to crystallize, at which point it can be removed and processed for use as fertilizer. The evaporation process in Moab ponds takes about 300 days, and the mine produces between 700 and 1,000 tons of potassium per day.

As the process of evaporation occurs, the ponds change color. Sometimes most of the lagoons are of a vibrant electric blue. Sometimes, however, the ponds exhibit a range of colors, creating a rainbow of blues alongside bands of turquoise, orange, yellow and white, indicating different stages of evaporation. Either way, it is quite visible, the ponds creating a supernatural landscape along the banks of the Colorado River.

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