Monday, June 24, 2013

Tufa Dome north of I-80–U.S. 95 Juntion

A somewhat eroded tufa dome.
Every now and then, when driving east or west on I-80 in northern Nevada, I get off and check out local items of geological or historical interest.

Here I've stopped at a partly eroded tufa mound located north-northeast of the junction of U.S. 95 and I-80 (map and location below). It's fairly easy to reach with an SUV or other 4WD vehicle.
View of the tufa mound looking northward toward the low hills of the Trinity Range.
Another view, this time with more of the basaltic-looking hills in the background.
Closeup of some the tufa structures, looking in toward a small crevice.
I tried focusing on the tufa textures in the foreground and background at the same time, but it was a cloudy day: not quite enough light.
Tufa covered by bright orange lichen on the north-facing side.
Looking south toward the U.S. 95–I-80 junction, and 95 beyond that going south toward Fallon.
The view above shows the eastern part of the White Plains of the Fortymile Desert, with the west end of the Mopung Hills of the West Humboldt Range in the left part of the photo (MSRMaps location).

Embedding this map directly from Scribble Maps (see original map here); didn't work, so I imported the "scribble" to Google Maps.

To get to this particular tufa dome (there are many in the general area between a few miles east of Nightingale Hot Springs and Toulon), take I-80 exit 83 from either the eastbound or westbound lane. If going west, turn right nearly immediately (at a location known as Trinity, now with former buildings gone), and follow a paved road to the north-northwest. If going east on I-80, turn left from the off-ramp onto highway 95, go under the I-80 underpass, follow the road as it curves to the east, and turn left on the same paved road just before entering the on-ramp loop for Reno and points west.

Drive about 0.3 miles on the paved road until you reach a power line access road, a dirt road that may not be appropriate for cars. Turn right, taking this road for about 0.7 miles, including a deviation from the power line itself, where the original road is at least partly washed out. You will then reach just the right sand wash road, which will take you up to the tufa dome (and beyond to a small prospect). I can't say for sure that the turn I marked into the wash road is exact; look for tracks heading in the right direction.

Careful examination of a Google Maps or Google Earth view of the area will reveal another road that comes in from the west just uphill from the tufa dome. I have no idea whether this road will work as an access route, but it will (or would?) go past a couple other domes.

While there, note the several Lake Lahontan shorelines and the desert pavement.

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