Utahns who want to catch a glimpse of rare salt formations on the shores of the Great Salt Lake can take a public tour this weekend.
Park rangers first spotted the rare salt formations on the south shore of the lake in October, according to Utah State Parks officials.
After investigating, staff discovered that the mounds were Glauber's salt, also known as "mirabilite." State officials say researchers are particularly interested in this formation because they may have similar features to conditions on Mars.
Mirabilite mounds are rare, state officials say, and never have been documented before at the Great Salt Lake. They have been found only at a few locations around the world, primarily in the Arctic.
"Geologists have determined that the mirabilite is precipitating from warm, high salinity sulfate-rich springs, visible only when the lake level falls below an elevation of 4194 feet," a news release reads. "A closer inspection of the mounds revealed that they are a built-up collection of crystallized terraces, similar in appearance to the travertine rimstone and dam terraces that form at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park."
State officials said that as the mounds at the Great Salt Lake grow, they eventually seal off their spring source and a new mound begins to form a few dozen yards away. The Utah beach currently has four mounds that have grown up to 3 feet tall and are several yards wide.
Staff at the Great Salt Lake Park will be offering guided tours of the mirabilite mounds on Saturday and Sunday, every half-hour each day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Those attending the tour are advised to wear water-resistant or waterproof boots and be prepared to stand in lake water or mud that can rise to mid-calf.
State officials also ask that, as research continues, people do not remove pieces of the mounds or damage them.