Animals

Salton Sea Lithium: Discover the Source of California’s Next Gold Rush

One of the weirdest places on Earth has to be the Salton Sea. The history of this resort town turned superfund site demonstrates many of the fragmented aspects of the last few centuries’ interactions between humans and the natural world.

There has, however, been a slight benefit recently extracted from the decades-long commercial and environmental catastrophe that the Salton Sea has posed. The finding of large lithium deposits is one example of this.

These seafloor lithium resources are extraordinarily abundant and vast. In terms of the money they make, they might completely rewrite the history of the Salton Sea. In particular, lithium is a highly sought-after element at the moment for use in electric car batteries. Like most resource extraction, lithium mining is not without controversy, though.

The Salton Sea’s Early History

Originally, the Salton Sea was a portion of the Gulf of California. The sea would still be a part of this greater body of water if it weren’t for the Colorado River delta. Depending on the Colorado River’s flow, the body of water that makes up the Salton Sea would periodically flood and then dry up.

Water was being diverted into this sea’s dry lake bed around the turn of the 20th century. The main reason for this was to supply water for the crops. A few decades later, the ocean in the Mojave Desert was converted into an artificial lake. The hottest and driest region in the continental United States is this desert.

The hideaway was a favorite hangout for celebrities and businesspeople in Los Angeles for a number of years. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was a typical getaway to get away from it all. The lake was also big enough to draw a wide variety of fish and birds. The government of California decided to declare the region a wildlife refuge as a result of this.

The Decline of the Salton Sea

But there were inherent problems with the way this lake was built. The water body’s water flow was not provided by the engineers through irrigation. As a result, the lake’s water gradually began to smell bad and becoming extremely acidic over time. Swimming in this kind of environment is dangerous and not conducive to life.

Heavy agricultural contaminants were continually being dumped into the lake’s stagnant water from neighboring rivers, exacerbating the damage to the ecology. At the lake’s bottom, these pollutants from agriculture would coagulate. The materials are then exposed when the lake naturally evaporates due to the heat of the desert.

In the 1970s, scientists started alerting the public to the lake’s oncoming tragedy. The lake’s fish population started to decline about this period. As a result, hundreds of fish carcasses were left strewn across the beachfronts. The resort town’s perception of the Salton Sea was severely damaged by the appearance and scent of this occurrence, as you may guess.

The majority of locals and visitors have left the area as the lake got so contaminated over time. As of late, the lake is a Superfund site. The US government uses this phrase to designate environmental pollution remediation initiatives that are of the utmost importance.

The man-made lake’s ongoing evaporation has revealed the agricultural contaminants that have crystallized at the sea’s bottom. Oftentimes, these contaminants are blown into neighboring areas. Some of them occasionally record the worst air quality in the country due to environmental contamination.

Lithium Deposits at the Sea

There is a bright side to this disastrous fall. Natural lithium reserves beneath the lake bed’s surface have been released by the geothermal activity beneath the Salton Sea. Right now, there is a huge need for lithium everywhere. Its importance as a component of electric vehicle batteries accounts for a portion of this. Furthermore, lithium is a crucial element in

The fact that the lithium calcifies in the salt deposits near the Salton Sea contributes to the simplicity of mining lithium there. The highly salinized seawater evaporates, leaving behind these deposits. This implies that it is frequently not even necessary to extract anything from below the surface of the earth.

It’s only been in the last few years that these readily mineable lithium resources have been found. Several national and international mining corporations have partnered with business interests following the discovery of these deposits. In an effort to profit from the abundance of lithium beneath the sea, the two have joined forces. Specifically, to employ lithium in their Ultium batteries, General Motors has teamed up with the Australian mining company Controlled Thermal Resources.