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PART TWO--A NEW THING IN THE LAND:

Salt Therapy in Summerlin's "Salt Room"

There is something new in Summerlin's Village Center (where we used to live) and it peaked my interest since it involved salt and I work in a salt mine (of sorts) near Carlsbad, New Mexico [the Waste isolation Pilot Plant where radioactive waste is permanently disposed of a half mile underground in a thick bedded salt formation dating to the Permian, the time before dinosaurs, about 250 million years old].  Walking by I saw this new facade:

 

The Salt Room! I went in and asked if I could take some pictures for my website.  Ava Mucikyan, the proprietor, gave me permission:

My timing was good, they had just had some good publicity due to their grand opening.  This local news article ought to be readable here:

Ava asked me if in my experience in our salt mine I had noticed any beneficial effects from breathing the salt dust.  I answered honestly that I had not paid attention to the effects on my breathing, but knew the dust was harmless and liked the smell and taste of it.  She showed me a brochure suggesting the very small salt particles were deeply inhaled, reducing inflammation and clearing passages and thereby aiding more effective breathing.

Since there was a class in session in the main salt room, or cave, I used the brochure to picture it and a yoga class taking place inside:

 

I was able to look into their individual therapy room with its nice salt brick wall and salt lamps:

The very fine salt dust is blown into the room when a therapy session is being held:

My favorite room is the children's therapy room, of course:

Businesses sell services and things, and the thing this business sells is salt, Himalayan salt to be more specific (and some other salt too, like the Dead Sea salt in one of these bags):

Ms. Mucikyan asked me what sort of salt was being mined where I worked and I told her it was the same.  Most of the world's salt deposits, whether in southeastern New Mexico or Pakistan where this salt is mined down-slope from the Himalayas, are formed by evaporating sea waters.  The Dead Sea and Great Salt Lake salts are formed from evaporating these salt lakes' waters.  In essence it is all sea salt, about 98% or more sodium chloride with a mixture of minor constituents.  Iron in very low concentrations is what gives the red tint to some of the salt, where the iron is very low or absent it is white.

I was interested in the age of this Himalayan salt so did some poking around on the internet and found it to be a mixture of ages, a very long time of deposition, apparently, with much of it coming during the Cambrian (about twice as old as our Permian salt).  The sea water from which it was evaporated was from an arm of the Tethys Sea (or Ocean), as compared with the Panthallassian Ocean bays that evaporated during the Permian in what is now the southwest and southcentral US.

I was very interested in this quite lengthy paper by Michael Cremo from 2001.  It allows that the preponderance of scientists believe the Salt Range of Pakistan to be of Cambrian age.   The Cambrian is the first period of the Paleozoic when the first life forms appeared in great abundance and is from about 480- to 540-million years ago.  Cremo cites papers about fossil evidence in this ancient salt suggesting it is from the Eocene epoch, from about 34- to 56-million years ago.   This is a first rate scientific mystery and Cremo cites a scientist who suggests that the geology is definitive, hence the creatures leaving fossils behind must be from that older period and hence evolution as currently understood is wrong.  Cremo then suggests that the Vedic and Puranic scriptures of the Hindu faith are correct, which suggest creation is much older than currently thought.  Cremo asserts that: "According to Vedic and Puranic accounts, the earth passes through phases of manifestation and devastation known as kalpas, or days of Brahma. Each day of Brahma is 4.32 billion years long. During the day, life is manifest on earth. At the end of each day of Brahma, there is a devastation, during which the earth is submerged in cosmic waters. The period of devastation is called a night of Brahma, and is of the same length as a day of Brahma. At the end of the night of Brahma, the earth emerges from the waters of devastation, and life again becomes manifest."  Fascinating!

A more mainstream scientific paper "An overview of tectonosedimentary framework of the Salt Range, northwestern Himalayan fold and thrust belt, Pakistan" was published in February 2014 (Springer online) in the Arabian Journal of Geoscience by S. Ghazi, S. H. Ali, M. Sahraeyan and  T. Hanif.  It has a Figure 3 that shows the location of the Salt Range, where Himalayan salt is mined, and the Himalayan mountain ranges that start about 70 kilometers to the north.  The origin of the salt is an arm of the Tethys Sea that looked like a lake where evaporation with inflow from the main sea could occur, leading to a very deep bedded salt formation subsequently overthrust by other rocks and compressed and protected.

The Tethys Sea (or Ocean) arm in which the salt formed is on the margins of Gondwanaland (see the Paleomap below)

So, the people visiting The Salt Room in Summerlin, Nevada, today, and inhaling deeply are pulling into their lungs the ~500-million year old remains of a sea that no longer exists.  (The Paleomap page linked above says the modern Mediterranean is about all that is left of this sea.)  It had very different life teeming in its waves than seen in oceans today, even though the water chemistry was probably similar to today's ocean waters. [If we need to get more technical, the ocean or sea in fact was likely the Proto-Tethys (~550-330 million years before the present), but that is just a detail.]

The unimaginable age of this salt is worthy of contemplation, in my opinion.

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