Rainbow of Colored Algae Found at Yuncheng Salt Lake
Fri, December 3, 2021

Rainbow of Colored Algae Found at Yuncheng Salt Lake

 

China is the world’s largest producer of salt, producing 48 million tons per year. Many Chinese companies or workers rely on Yuncheng Salt Lake, also called Xiechi Lake, to produce them. The lake was formed roughly 500 million years ago and locals have harvested its salt for at least the last 4,000 years. The ancient Chinese used a five-step production method of creating edible salt for over 1,000 years, which includes sunbathing, filtering, storage, crystallization, and shoveling.

 

Photo Credits: All That’s Interesting

 

Yuncheng Salt Lake is not only popular because of the salt it produces but also its vibrant color. The lake is filled with a combination of hues of purple, bright blue, green, and bright crimson. Scientists found out that these colors appear due to a unique species of microalgae called Dunaliella salina, the most salt-tolerant organism known. It is usually used by manufacturers as coloring in food additives and cosmetics because its pigments are so intense. 

 

Photo Credits: All That’s Interesting

 

According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, Yuncheng Salt Lake was able to produce such a fantastic palette of colors because saltwater incubates chemical reactions between minerals and organisms, with the help of heat and increased light. The lake’s colors are just some of the main attractions. It also forms crystals on its surface called mirabilite when the temperatures drop. They usually resemble blossoming flowers or intricate crystal towers.

 

Photo Credits: All That’s Interesting

 

Mirabilite, which Chinese sometimes refer to it as the “salt flowers blossoming,” only happens when temperatures are under 2 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Yuncheng Salt Lake is also facing a problem: algal blooms. Algal blooms tend to dominate the waters leaving other life forms nutrient deficient and dying. In turn, when these life forms decay, it depletes the water's oxygen supply. Aside from that, algal blooms prevent the absorption of oxygen in organisms living beneath them. 
 

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