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MONO LAKE Portfolio

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MONO LAKE is one of those special historic places to visit.   It was formed approximately 750,000 years ago.   Areas along its shoreline are covered with mysterious looking tufa towers.  Researchers believe the most recent volcanic eruptions occurred about 350 years ago forming nearby Paoha Crater and Panum Crater.  Sediments below the ash layer indicate Mono Lake may even be a remnant of one of the oldest lakes in North America.


The lake has a sad history:  The City of Los Angeles started diverting water from the Owens River into their aqueduct system around 1913.  During the 1940's, Los Angeles extended their aqueduct system into the Mono Basin.  As a result of water diversion and evaporation, by 1982 the lake was less than 70% of its 1941 surface area.   Water salinity in Mono Lake doubled.   The formerly submerged tufa columns and mounds of alkaline sands were now visible.   Mysterious, beautiful, yet bittersweet.


In the mid-1970s,  the historic efforts of David Gaines, Stanford University, the Audubon Society, the National Science Foundation, the University of California and Earlham College brought Mono Lake's ecological plight into the public limelight.  After over a decade of litigation, on September 28, 1994 the California State Water Resource Board finally issued an order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams from water diversion. 


These days, Mono Lake is just filled with Brine Shrimp (Artemia Monica) due to its high salinity.  The shorelines are thriving with Alkali Black Flies (Ephydria Hians) which serve as an important food source for about two million migratory birds.