This natural-color image, offered by Customaps, shows the Intrepid Potash Mine's evaporation ponds in Moab, Utah, United States. Most potash forms in arid regions when inland seas or lakes dry out. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind potassium salt deposits. Over time, sediment buries these deposits and they become potash ore. The ore of Moab – which actually lies about 3 900 feet (1 200 meters) below the surface and within the Paradox Formation – began to form about 300 million years ago. Potash is soluble and so water dissolves it into a brine which then gets pumped into underground caves where the potash further continues to dissolve.
Eventually, a highly-concentrated brine is pumped all the way to the surface and into one of the evaporation ponds shown above. As the water evaporates, potash and other salts crystallize. Full evaporation typically takes about 300 days. To reduce the amount of time it takes for the potash to crystallize, the water is dyed bright blue; darker water absorbs more sunlight and heat. The crystals of potash and salt are then sent to a facility where a flotation process separates the elements.
Image © Mapbox, DigitalGloble, Inc.
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