allemand anglais arabe bulgare chinois coréen croate danois espagnol estonien finnois français grec hébreu hindi hongrois islandais indonésien italien japonais letton lituanien malgache néerlandais norvégien persan polonais portugais roumain russe serbe slovaque slovène suédois tchèque thai turc vietnamien
allemand anglais arabe bulgare chinois coréen croate danois espagnol estonien finnois français grec hébreu hindi hongrois islandais indonésien italien japonais letton lituanien malgache néerlandais norvégien persan polonais portugais roumain russe serbe slovaque slovène suédois tchèque thai turc vietnamien

définition - Black_Rock_Desert

Black Rock Desert (n.)

1.a desert in northwestern Nevada

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Black Rock Desert

Black Rock Desert
The desert's 1,000 sq mi (2,600 km2) encompasses several areas:
492 sq mi (1,270 km2) wilderness (NE)[1],
200 sq mi (520 km2) playa (SW),
100 sq mi (260 km2) between playa & wilderness,
100 sq mi (260 km2) N central branch
and 100 sq mi (260 km2) perimeter (canyons etc.)
Name origin: "The Black Rock" near a spring[citation needed]
Country United States
State Nevada
County Humboldt, Pershing, Washoe
Part of Great Basin section
Nearest city Gerlach, Nevada[citation needed]
River Quinn River
Location Quinn River Sink
 - elevation 3,907 ft (1,191 m) [2]
 - coordinates 40°52′59″N 119°03′50″W / 40.88306°N 119.06389°W / 40.88306; -119.06389
Length 100 mi (161 km) [3]
Area 1,000 sq mi (2,590 km2) [4]
Biome Lahontan Playa ecoregion
and Salt Shrub Basin ecoregion[5]
Public use Federal lands: restrictions,
Private lands: some grant permission
Easiest access State Route 447
Timezone Pacific (UTC-8)
 - summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
GNIS ID 863276 [6]

The Black Rock Desert is an arid region in the northern Nevada section of the Great Basin with a lakebed that is a dry remnant of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan. The region is notable for its paleogeologic features, as an area of 19th-century Emigrant Trails to California, as a venue for rocketry, and as an alternative to the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah, for setting land speed records (Mach 1.02 in 1997). It is also the location for the annual Burning Man festival.



  Black Rock Point[7] with mirage

The Black Rock Desert region is in northwestern Nevada and the northwestern Great Basin. The playa extends for approximately 100 mi (160 km) northeast from the towns of Gerlach and Empire, between the Jackson Mountains to the east and the Calico Mountains to the west.

Citing Encyclopaedia Britannica here: "playa, (Spanish: shore or beach), also called pan, flat, or dry lake, flat-bottom depression found in interior desert basins and adjacent to coasts within arid and semiarid regions, periodically covered by water that slowly filtrates into the ground water system or evaporates into the atmosphere, causing the deposition of salt, sand, and mud along the bottom and around the edges of the depression.

Playas are among the flattest known landforms."

The Black Rock Desert is separated into two arms by the Black Rock Range. It lies at an elevation of 3,907 ft (1,191 m)[6] and has an area of about 1,000 sq mi (2,600 km2).[4]

There are several possible definitions of the extent of the Black Rock Desert. Often people refer just to the playa surface. Sometimes terrain which can be seen from the playa is included. The widest definition of the Black Rock Desert region is the watershed of the basin that drains into the playa. The intermittent Quinn River is the largest river in the region, starting in the Santa Rosa Range and ending in the Quinn River Sink on the playa south of the Black Rock Range. The watershed covers 11,600 sq mi (30,000 km2)[8] including the Upper and Lower Quinn River, Smoke Creek Desert, Massacre Lake, and Thousand Creek[9]/Virgin Valley[10] watersheds of northwestern Nevada as well as small parts across the borders of California and Oregon.

Humboldt, Pershing and Washoe Counties of Nevada intersect at the Black Rock Desert.

  Mountain ranges

The following mountain ranges are within or bordering the Black Rock Desert region.

  Geologic features

The desert has numerous volcanic and geothermal features of the northwest Nevada volcanic region, including two Black Rock Points (west and east) at the southern end of the Black Rock Range and which have dark Permian volcanic rocks similar to another Permian black diabase dike formation in Nevada.[35]

The portion of the Lake Lahontan lakebed in the Black Rock Desert is generally flat with Lahontan salt shrub vegetation, widely-scattered hot springs, and a playa. In areas of the lakebed along mountains, rain shadow results in desert precipitation levels.

  The continuous Fly Geyser of Fly Ranch is on private land and began during 1916[36] water well drilling that accidentally penetrated a geothermal source.[37]

The playa of the Black Rock Desert lakebed is ~200 sq mi (520 km2) within an area bounded by the Calico Mountains Wilderness (north), Gerlach (west), the Applegate National Historic Trail (northeast), and the Union Pacific Railroad (south).[38] The "South Playa" (~30 sq mi, with ~13 sq mi (34 km2) in Washoe Co) is between Gerlach and the southwest boundary of the National Conservation Area (NCA),[38] while the northeast NCA portion of the playa (including ~25 sq mi (65 km2) in Humboldt Co) is between the NCA boundary and the Applegate National Historic Trail.[38] A Nobles route between Gerlach and Black Rock Hot Springs extends through the length of the playa.[38] The playa's Quinn River Sink of ~3 sq mi (7.8 km2) is where the Quinn River discharges/evaporates ~2.75 miles (4.43 km) south-southwest of Black Rock Hot Springs.[1]


Prospecting and mining has occurred in the Black Rock region since the mid-19th century. US Gypsum Corporation operated a gypsum mine and drywall (brand named Sheetrock) manufacturing plant in Empire, which employed 107 people and produced 266,300 tons of gypsum in 2008.[39][40]

Allied Nevada Gold Corporation re-opened the Hycroft Gold Mine in 2008 after acquiring it from Vista Gold Corp. Hycroft is a strip-mining operation in the Kamma Mountains near Sulphur on the east side of the Black Rock Desert.[39][41][42] An opal mine is in the base of the Calico Mountains on the west side of the desert.[43]


In 1979 a fossilized Columbian Mammoth was found.[44][45] Copies of the bones are now exhibited at the Nevada State Museum, Carson City.

  Land speed records

The flatness of the Black Rock Desert's lakebed surface has led to the area's use as a proving ground for experimental land vehicles. It was the site of two successful attempts on the World Land Speed Record:

  • In 1983, Richard Noble drove the jet-powered Thrust2 car to a new record of 633 mph (1,019 km/h). Noble also headed up the team that beat the Thrust 2 record.[46]
  • In 1997, ThrustSSC became the world's first and only supersonic car, reaching 766 mph (1,233 km/h).[47][48]
  CSXT Space Shot, May 17, 2004

  Rocketry records and attempts

In addition to the flat surface, distance from populated areas and uncontrolled airspace over the area also attract experimentation with rockets. The following are highlights of amateur rocketry records[49] set at Black Rock:

  • On November 23, 1996, the Reaction Research Society launched a rocket to 50 miles (80 km) in altitude, a significant leap in amateur rocket altitude records at the time.[49][50]
  • On May 17, 2004 the Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) launched a rocket to 72 miles (116 km) in altitude, which was the first amateur rocket to exceed the 62.14-mile (100.00 km) Karman Line required to claim a space flight.[51][52]

Other rocket launches attempting various altitude records or space flights have occurred at Black Rock. In May 1999, JP Aerospace used a rockoon (balloon-launched rocket) in an unsuccessful suborbital space flight attempt covered by CNN. The rocket reached 75,000 feet (23,000 m), which was far less than the intended Karman Line to reach space.[53] CSXT made unsuccessful space launch attempts in 2000 and 2002 before the successful 2004 space flight.[54][55] JP Aerospace returned to the desert in 2009, launching an armchair to the edge of space for Space Chair, an advertisement for Toshiba electronic products.[56]


  1914 WPRR map with Gerlach, Ascalon, Trego, Chalona, Ronda, and Sulphur

More than ~15,000 years ago (15 tya), the Humboldt River flowed to the Smoke Creek-Black Rock Desert sub-basin, and during the recession of Lake Lahontan, the river diverted to the Carson Desert sub-basin.[57] During the highest Lahontan water level (~12.7 tya), the lakebed was under about 500 ft (150 m) of water,[58][59] under which sediment accumulated to form a flat lakebed.

Great Basin tribes inhabited the area 7.0 tya, and a Frémont Expedition encountered the site in 1843, but the Fortieth Parallel Survey (1867) conducted the first official exploration.[60] In the late 1840s, Peter Lassen led California Trail emigrants through the desert's Applegate-Lassen Cutoff, an arduous route that took them hundreds of miles away from the gold lands of California. By 1910, Western Pacific's Feather River Route (Oakland-Salt Lake City) had been completed across the east side of the lakebed on the "general route first explored by Lieutenant E.G. Beckwith in 1854".[61] By 1927, the desert had been used for filming The Winning of Barbara Worth (the 2003 Mythbusters pilot episode was also filmed in the area).

In World War II, 973 sq mi (2,520 km2) of the Black Rock Desert was used for a USAAF aerial gunnery training range, and post-war, the north region of the United States Navy's Lovelock Aerial Gunnery Range was in the Black Rock Desert area[62] (the Black Rock Desert Gunnery Range had closed by 1964).[63] In 1979, a fossilized Columbian Mammoth was found along the side of the lakebed.[64]

The first "Balls" rocket event was held at the desert in 1993,[65] and in 1998, the first annual Gerlach Dash glider race from Reno to the desert was held.[66] For its 30th anniversary, the Black Rock Press published a 1994 book of desert photographs.[67] The Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock organized in 1999,[68] and a National Conservation Area Act the next year created several protected areas of the desert.[1]:a Also in 2000, Lisa O'Shea died 7 days after being scalded in Double Hot Springs when she attempted to rescue 2 dogs,[69] and the Bureau of Land Management subsequently fenced "Double Hot".[1]

  21st century

Jack Lee Harelson was fined $2.5 million in 2002 for archeological looting of Elephant Mountain Cave, and in 2008, an injured man was rescued when an aircraft pilot radioed for help after noticing him lying face-down on the lakebed.[70] In 2010, the BLM's Winnemucca District Office completed a roundup of 1,922 wild horses in the Calico Mountains Complex,[specify] of which 39 died of malnutrition due to overgrazing.[1]:c


  Lakebed during 2006 rocket launch

Nevada State Route 447 is the area's main highway and connects Gerlach to SR 427 at Wadsworth, Nevada, near Interstate 80.[71] The desert's dirt roads are generally not usable in wet or snowy conditions. Old Highway 34 provides access to the playa on the west side and to the Hualapai Flat. Old Highway 48 (dirt) connects the playa to Lovelock, and Old Highway 49 (Jungo Road, dirt) provides access to the lakebed from the Sulphur and Jungo ghost towns.[72]

The Feather River Route uses the lakebed's east side between Sulphur and Gerlach. Light aircraft have landed on the lakebed for events (the nearby Empire and Reno-Tahoe International Airports provide commercial service for the area).


  1. ^ a b c d e Bureau of Land Management. "DOI: BLM: National Home Page". BLM.gov. http://www.blm.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
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    b. "Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area Act of 2000" (pdf). November 6, 2001. http://www.nv.blm.gov/Winnemucca/blackrock/NCA%20Act%20of%202000.pdf. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
    c. Thompson, Jamie (December 16, 2004). "Hot Springs on Public Lands". BLM News. Winnemucca Field Office. http://www.nv.blm.gov/Winnemucca/press_releases/nr05-11.htm. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
    d. Ross, Lisa (02/05/2010). "BLM Concludes Calico Wild Horse Gather". News Release No. 2010-11. Winnemucca District Office. http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_information/newsroom/2010/february/blm_concludes_calico.html. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
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  68. ^ "About Us". friends of BLACK ROCK / HIGH ROCK. BlackRockDesert.org. http://blackrockdesert.org/friends/about/us. Retrieved 2010-05-12.  (current weather conditions)
  69. ^ "Human obituaries". Animal People Online. November 2000. http://www.animalpeoplenews.org/humanObits1100.html. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  70. ^ "Husky pilot helps rescue man dying in desert". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. 2008-07-31. http://www.aopa.org/aircraft/articles/2008/080731husky.html. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  71. ^ "Nevada State Maintained Highways: Descriptions, Index and Maps" (pdf). Roadway Systems Division. January 2008. http://www.nevadadot.com/reports_pubs/state_maintained/pdf/sm_book.pdf. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  72. ^ "Nevada Log: Routes 0 through 99". http://www.rockymountainroads.com/nv-000.html. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 


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