Over the Salton Sea

Near the beginning of my career (after all the “real engineering” stuff like mining and oil), I worked for a small company developing software for analyzing satellite data, and between that and being a pilot, I totally fell in love with satellite, space and aerial photos of any sort. I remember a set of classic satellite images of water forms that we had around the office to use as examples for various types of image analysis, and I think that I learned more about the geography of water features from those slides and the accompanying documentation than I learned from all my years of grade/high school geography. Now, when I look out an airplane window and see an oxbow lake, I know what it is and how it formed.

One of the photos (technically scanned images rather than photos) in the set was of the Salton Sea, located in a desert basin in eastern California, more than 200 feet below sea level. Because water only flows in, not out, it has a high concentration of mineral salts due to agricultural drainage, and is also a protected area for certain bird and fish species. The sea has a very distinctive shape, as well as being a huge honking lake in the middle of a desert, so is pretty easy to pick out if you happen to fly over it on the way into San Diego or Los Angeles. Today, approaching San Diego, we flew directly over top of it and I snapped several shots, the first time that I’ve photographed it (although not the first time flying over it):

Salton Sea

Leave a Reply