Why is Pyramid Lake, NV Changing Color?

Spencer Cox | | BrainsBrains
color change
Photo credit: Pyramid Lake Fisheries

This week, Pyramid Lake has been displaying a significant change of colors. The lake, which is located in northwestern Nevada, is normally dark blue in color. But as of late, the lake has become light turquoise and even white.

This drastic change ultimately comes as a result of higher levels of calcium carbonate in the water. However, there are more factors at play that have contributed to the significant change.

color change
Photo credit: Pyramid Lake Fisheries

One of the factors is that Pyramid Lake just had algae and plankton blooms. In tandem to the bloom, warm August temps and calm lake conditions have decreased the PH levels across the lake making it more conducive for calcium carbonate to occur. According to Pyramid Lake Fisheries Director, Daniel Mosely, “When the algae breaks down and decomposes, it grabs some of the nutrients and pollutants along with the algae on its way down to the bottom of the lake. It helps improve water quality and release nitrogen” he said.

Ultimately, the combination of the bloom, decreased PH levels, and increased calcium carbonate all play a role in affecting the color of the lake. While these conditions are too hazardous for humans to swim in the lake, this is a natural cycle that only occurs approximately once per decade. Additionally, this chemical process does not harm any aquatic life in the lake. At this time, experts are unsure of exactly how long this color change will last, however it is not anticipated to stick around for long.

Satellite image during the early stages of the color change. Photo credit: Pyramid Lake Fisheries

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