Deep in the south of Kenya, there’s this massive lake lying in a catchment of faulted volcanic rocks.During the dry season, it is 80% covered by soda, a saline carbonate brine. A salt lake.
Lake Magadi is a saline, alkaline lake, approximately 38 square miles in size, that lies in an endorheic basin formed by a graben. The lake is an example of a “saline pan.” The lake water, which is a dense sodium carbonate brine, precipitates vast quantities of the mineral trona (sodium sesquicarbonate). In places, the salt is up to 130 feet thick. The lake is recharged mainly by saline hot springs (temperatures up to 186° F) that discharge into alkaline “lagoons” around the lake margins, there being little surface runoff in this arid region. Most hot springs lie along the northwestern and southern shorelines of the lake. During the rainy season, a thin (less than 3 ft) layer of brine covers much of the saline pan, but this evaporates rapidly leaving a vast expanse of white salt that cracks to produce large polygons.
The lake is also known for its flamingos. Huge flocks were out in the parts where there’s water. Though the water is hot [very hot!] and highly alkaline, there is a fish species that lives in it.
A single species of fish, a cichlid Alcolapia grahami, inhabits the hot, highly alkaline waters of this lake basin and is commonly seen in some of the hot spring pools around the shoreline, where the water temperature is less than 113° F.
There’s a restaurant there where we went to cool down, recuperate from the long ride, and prepare to head back.