Get Lost in the Dark Beauty of a Russian Salt Mine

Sylvinite is mined for its potassium-bearing salt, but it also has an aesthetic appeal.

The words “Russian salt mine” don’t usually make you think of stunning images. Unless, of course, you’ve seen a sylvinite mine.

Sylvinite is a mixture of rock and potassium-bearing salts, and its vibrant colors make the walls of this mine in Berezniki look like they’ve been covered in elaborate tapestry.

The rock-salt mixture has been found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. The deposits are in places that millions of years ago were covered by seas and oceans that left behind layers of salt.

The potassium in sylvinite has been a popular addition to fertilizer since the 19th century and has had huge effects on the global food trade. Potassium makes the skin of some fruits thicker, and without it, many mangoes and bananas wouldn’t survive being shipped overseas.

[Photography by Viktor Lyagushkin]

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services, personalise your advertising and remember your preferences. If you continue browsing, or click on the accept button on this banner, we understand that you accept the use of cookies on our website. For more information visit our Cookies Policy AcceptClose cookie policy overlay