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- interior drainage. For this reason it is known as the "Great Basin." No streams that rise within it carry contributions to the ocean, but all the snow and rain that falls inside the rim of the basin is returned In the atmosphere by evaporation, either directly from the soil or after it has found its way into some of the lakes or sinks that occupy depressions in the irregular surface. Some of the valleys or plains that separate the mountain ranges are absolute deserts, totally destitute of water, and treeless for a space representing many days' journey, the gray sagebrush alone giving life to the landscape. Each of the main desert basins includes a large area in which the land slopes toward a central depression, and each has a main drainage way through which flows an intermittent Stream whose bed is dry most of the time along the greater portion of its course. Many of the valleys have in their lowest depressions playas, or mud plains, left by the evaporation of intermittent lakes, and some of these are of great extent. Portions of some of the valleys have become incrusted to a depth of several inches with alkaline salts, which cover the surface as an efflorescence and present the appearance of drifting snow. Most of the permanent lakes into which some of the surface drainage finds its way are saline and alkaline. Their shores are desert wastes, shunned by animals and by all forms of life except salt-loving plants. The floor of the desert is dotted with many other smaller sinks or depressions that have no outlet and no inflow except during the rare desert storms. These are known locally as "dry lakes," " borax lakes," "salt lakes," "alkali marshes," etc. DEATH VALLEY BASIN. Death Valley Basin (Pl. II, A) is the sink of the Amargosa (Spanish for "bitter"), a name that was given to the river by Gen. J. C. Fremont in 1844. This stream, which is dry for the greater part of the time throughout much of its course, rises in a group of springs that lie about 17 miles northeast of the town of Bullfrog, Nev., in Oasis Valley. Its course is a little east of south until it passes Franklin Dry Lake; thence it flows southward through a deep canyon into South Death Valley. There it turns to the west and north, and is finally lost near Saratoga Springs. The Amargosa is about 140 miles long. It repeatedly disappears and reappears, flowing a short distance and then sinking, its water being absorbed by the sands until its channel crosses a ledge of bed rock, when it again emerges to view. Its water, which is potable near its source, percolates slowly downstream through the sands and takes up increasing quantities of alkaline salts from the soil, so that when it comes to the surface along its lower course, the water is charged with these salts, and though to
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