Mono Lake, CA (Image Credit: Shane Black/Caters News Agency)

A remarkable image by Shane Black captures the Milky Way hovering above Mono Lake—an unusual lake located in eastern California (USA). While normal lakes are typically filled with vast quantities of fresh water, Mono—a literal hotspot of geological activity—is an alkaline lake: chocked full of various types of dissolved salts.

The salts (especially calcium carbonate) that accumulated over time gave rise to the impressive structures—traditionally called Tufa towers—also featured in this image. Forged over the course of thousands of years, the natural  formations bear resemblance to sandcastles made of stone. Given their makeup (limestone), perhaps that description is a little too on-the-nose?

Of course, it's worth noting that, because of controversial initiatives to divert water from the basin that feeds the lake, the water levels have fallen dramatically over the years, which leaves the towers exposed. Fortunately, much of its initial volume has been restored.

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