Weekly Point: 240
House is named after Lake Natron
Lake Natron is a salt or soda lake in Arusha Region in Tanzania. It is in the Gregory Rift, which is the eastern branch of the East African Rift. The lake is within the Lake Natron Basin, a Ramsar Site wetland of international significance. The southern half of Lake Natron (top). Fault scarps and the Gelai Volcano can also be seen. Numerous near-white salt-crust “rafts” pepper the shallowest parts of the lake (inset).
The lake is fed principally by the Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River, which rises in central Kenya, and by mineral-rich hot springs. It is quite shallow, less than three metres (9.8 ft) deep, and varies in width depending on its water level. The lake is a maximum of 57 kilometres (35 mi) long and 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide. The surrounding area receives irregular seasonal rainfall, mainly between December and May totalling 800 millimetres (31 in) per year. Temperatures at the lake are frequently above 40 °C (104 °F).
High levels of evaporation have left behind natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) and trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate). The alkalinity of the lake can reach a pH of greater than 12. The surrounding bedrock is composed of alkaline, sodium-dominated trachyte lavas that were laid down during the Pleistocene period. The lavas have significant amounts of carbonate but very low calcium and magnesium levels. This has allowed the lake to concentrate into a caustic alkaline brine.