Posted on 08/20/2013

Photo taken on August 16, 2013

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Carson Sink
Russell Spit
Lake Lahontan

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Russell Spit

Russell Spit
Looking north. Yeah, that's correct--this embankment is a "spit" in the sense of a peninsula of sediment built up by deposition of longshore currents along a big shoreline! And it's here at the edge of one of the driest deserts (the Carson Sink) in northern Nevada. But about 15K years ago (and also intermittently during even earlier glacial stages) Lake Lahontan filled this basin, so that an inland sea stretched as far as the eye could see. And as you might imagine it developed some serious surf with those north winds. All along west of here, there's a "fossil shoreline", with features like you'd find along a rocky seacoast--haystack rocks, wave-cut benches, longshore bars, etc.--all now high and dry. We used to bring UNR geology students out here for field trips.
Russell was Israel C. Russell, a pioneering geologist with the US Geological Survey who recognized the features left by Lake Lahontan, including this one, and named the lake in the late 19th century.
The spit now acts as a dam for the drainages behind it--hence the small dry lake bed ("perched playa", in the jargon) to the left of the spit itself.
The spit is big enough it's hard to fit into the pic--check out some of the other pix in this collection.

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