The Baffling Case of Honeycomb Patterns in Salt Deserts May Have Been Finally Solved

Salt deserts around the world are created differently. For some reason, however, they all seem to share a similarity — they form honeycomb-like patterns of ridges. This peculiar feature of salt deserts has baffled scientists for quite some time. Over the years, two theories have been offered in an attempt to explain the phenomenon. The first theory attributed the honeycomb shapes to cracks that formed as the ground surface dried. The second theory proposed that the edges of the cracks might have pushed upward to form the honeycomb ridges. Neither was able to explain the pattern's ubiquity and regularity. But this new theory, proposed by a team of researchers from Germany and England, could probably be the key to the truth.

The secret of the phenomenon lies beneath the dry crust. The process involves constant evaporation and turnover of salty and freshwater. This explains the regularity of the honeycomb-like patterns of the ridges. This property also seems to be present in all deserts.

While the study does not have an immediate application in the world, Jana Lasser, the physicist who led the study, says that she feels accomplished. She describes the study as "the purest form of research" and a "very, very satisfying experience."

(Image Credit: Anouchka Unel/ Wikimedia Commons)

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