The Lop Nur Potash Ponds are located in the Taklimakan Desert of China. The area is a dismal location for agricultural activity, yet the sandy landscape is rich with potash – a form of potassium salt that is a major nutrient for plant growth and a key ingredient in fertilizers. The salts are pumped to the surface from underground brines and dried in massive solar ponds that stretch across the landscape for more than 21 kilometres (13 miles). The bright colors that are seen here occur because the water is dyed blue, since darker water absorbs more sunlight and heat, thereby reducing the amount of time it takes for the water to evaporate and the potash to crystallize.
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