What is Fossil Falls: It is an area with unique geologic features. The area was part of the Coso Volcanic Range, which was an active volcanic area thousands of years ago. Some of the remnants of this volcanic activity can be seen in the form of a cinder cone, Red Hill, which is next to Fossil Falls. The other remnants of this volcanic activity are the “falls” themselves, which is a large area of basalt (hardened lava). This large sheet of basalt blocked portions of ancient Owens River, and probably portions of the Owens Lake. The significance of this is that during the last ice age, water from receding glaciers (and the river and lake) flowed over this basalt, smoothing it, eroding it, and forming the canyons and holes that remain today over a period of thousands of years. Today, what remains is smooth basalt that has eroded into a distinctive geologic area. (For more information click here and here).
In Southwestern Nevada, there’s a place where some of the purest, clearest, cleanest and most pristine water bubbles to the surface. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. As I’ve discussed before, large swathes of Eastern California used to be glacial lakes, such as where present day Trona and the Trona Pinnacles are located. There’s also an oasis in the former town of Zzyzx, and groundwater at Salt Creek in Death Valley and Badwater. Even cooler, Death Valley has salt pools that randomly appear and disappear across the Valley floor proper in random locations (one of the more accessible pools is currently located by the Devil’s Golf Course, but it is closing – slowly!). When you look at it like this, through the lens of time, geologic change, as well as the interconnected nature of the environment, crystal clear desert oases really aren’t that surprising.