Death Valley itself contains numerous unique features. Among them sits the appropriately named Furnace Creek. In this location, in 1913, the highest air temperature ever recorded was reached; 134 F (56.7 C).
Another feature, known as Badwater Basin, has the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 ft (86 m) below sea level.
Death Valley forms the cornerstone of Death Valley National Park. This, in turn, comprises part of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve.
Death Valley Geology
Death Valley remains considered to be one of the finest examples of a basin and range configuration in the world. It sits at the extreme southern end of a trough known as Walker Lane.
This trough proceeds north into the state of Oregon. The valley also gets bisected by a slip fault system. Furnace Creek flows into Death Valley yet eventually dries up in the sands of the valley floor.
Extensive areas of sand dunes cover large portions of the region. Numerous salt pans located in the region. These are the remains of several inland seas that were present during the Pleistocene era. The evaporation of these deposited large quantities of sodium and borax
The evaporation of these deposited also large quantities of sodium and borax.
Death Valley Climate
Death Valley possesses a rather extensive subtropical, hot desert climate. This climate remains categorized by its long, extremely hot summers, followed by short warm winters.
Rainfall stays scarce and sporadic throughout the region, and virtually non-existent in some portions of Death Valley. When the sun heats the air, it rises upwards.
The high valley walls serve to circulate the hot air back down to the floor of the valley. There it gets heated to even higher temperatures by compression.
In addition to this, the density of the below sea level air further augments the process by reflecting even more of the heat downwards, back into the valley.
Death Valley Phenomenon
Death Valley also serves as home to a unique phenomenon that had baffled scientists since the 1940s, referred to as the sailing stones.
In a remote region of the valley, known as Racetrack Playa, numerous stones of varying sizes litter the sandy floor of the playa. Over the decades many of these stones appeared to move, leaving tracks in the sand, with no apparent explanation.
Finally, in 2014, a team of researchers managed to catch the phenomenon in action, and explain it. Under a rare and unique combination of conditions during the winter, extremely thin sheets of ice form on the floor of the playa.
At that time, winds drive the stones slowly across the playa floor, as the ice also breaks up. The process also occurs rarely, and too slowly to be viewed by the naked eye.