Here yellow sand is rampant, there is no vegetation, no streams, and huge hollows hidden under the soft sand; at a glance, besides yellow sand, there is still yellow sand, and only the labyrinth-like Yadan landform can give people visual enjoyment. This is the devil's zone of the Asian continent, and countless people who have tried to pry into its secrets have died in it.
This is the "Sea of Death" Lop Nor.
More than a decade ago, after shrinking, only a large area of salt crust landscape of the Lop Nor grass, known as the forbidden zone of life, the sea of death, no man's land, China's Bermuda, etc..
However, according to the authoritative biodiversity survey data: there are 78 species of vertebrates in 30 families distributed in Lop Nor, including pan sheep, northern goats, wild bactrian camels, wild donkeys, goose-throated antelopes, snow leopards, brown bears, etc.; 74 species of plants in 18 subjects, including poplar, tamarisk, sand date, pike, cistanche, etc.
In particular, the wild camel in Lop Nor, scientifically known as the wild bactrian camel, is even more precious than the giant panda. There are less than 1,000 wild camels left in the world, and there are about 300 of them in China. The speed of wild camels can reach up to 40 kilometers per hour, and their sense of smell can beat a trained police dog by several blocks, and they can sense danger from several kilometers away.
Because of their acute sense of smell and outstanding running speed, wild camels are difficult to detect by humans, and it was not until 2001 that a Chinese research team took the first photo of a wild camel in its natural state in human history.
In this post, we are not here to introduce you to wild camels. In this post, we are going to learn about another precious resource in Lop Nor - potassium salt.
The Lop Nor, which once played an important role in history and radiated great light, has dried up with the disconnection of the Peacock and Tarim rivers, leaving only a layer of salt crust and an endless Gobi, and people have begun to forget it.
When it comes to Lop Nor, I believe many people first knew its name in the 1960s, when China exploded the first atomic bomb here, so the world was shocked by the news, Lop Nor was also known to the world. A few years later, the President of the United States visited China and brought a satellite picture of Lop Nor's "big ears" to the world.
But Lop Nor is really known by the land of God, from 1980, China's famous scientists Peng Gamu deep Lop Nor expedition strange disappearance incident.
So, why Penggamu to enter the inch of grass, the "Sea of Death" called Lop Nor? Some people say that Peng Gamu is to explore, some say that Peng Gamu is to find treasure, there are those unreliable "double fish pei", "aliens" and other legends, in fact, Peng Gamu is to find potassium salt to enter the Lop Nor, he can be seen as the new China He can be regarded as the first generation of potassium salt searchers.
What are potassium salts? Potash is a general term for potassium-containing minerals. According to their solubility, they can be divided into well-soluble potash minerals and insoluble potassium-aluminum silicate minerals.
So, what exactly are potash salts used for? The author would say that potash is quite versatile and has a wide range of uses in both industry and agriculture, with 95% of potash products used as fertilizer in agriculture and 5% in industrial manufacturing. Potash is mainly divided into potassium chloride and potassium sulfate, which is one of the three indispensable fertilizers for agriculture. Potassium chloride is used in large quantities for grain crops such as rice, wheat, corn, etc.; as for those cash crops such as hemp, tobacco, sugar cane, grapes, sugar beets, tea, etc., potassium sulfate is needed.
Why is there potassium salt in Lop Nor? Lop Nor was once the second largest saltwater lake in China (after Qinghai Lake). In the early years, the Tarim River and the Peacock River brought sediment and minerals from along the way to converge in Lop Nor. As the Lop Nor continued to shrink, it finally dried up in 1972. The dried up Lop Nor, however, contains huge reserves of potash ore. According to the information, 250 million tons of potash ore are stored in the northern part of Lop Nor alone, which can be used by people all over the world for hundreds of years.
So, why do we have to go for potassium salts? The long-term fertilization of our arable land has led to a lack of potassium in the soil, and China is now one of the most serious regions in the world in terms of potassium deficiency. Especially in the coastal areas where agriculture is developed, the potassium content in the soil is declining very fast. The lack of potassium in the soil causes early crop failure, reduced resistance to disease, collapse, cold and drought, deteriorating quality of agricultural products and decreasing yield, etc. The problem is becoming increasingly serious.
If we want to take our agricultural development to a new level, we have to solve the problems of "how to open up potash resources, how to increase potash varieties and supply, how to apply potash scientifically, and how to carry out potash replenishment projects on our arable land", and the core of these problems is, of course, to find potash.
But China's potash mineral resources are seriously scarce, potash products are seriously insufficient, more than 70% of potash are dependent on imports, the country needs to spend huge amounts of foreign exchange every year, a large number of potash imports from abroad. We have to give as much as people say. Negotiation? I won't sell you, let's see what you do!
It is for this reason that China has included potassium salt in the national priority arrangement of urgent shortage of minerals.
Why go to a dangerous place like Lop Nor to find potassium salt? Hasn't the Charkhan Salt Lake already been discovered? In fact, there is still a difference between potassium salts. China has huge reserves of potassium salts, but the reserves of soluble potassium salts are not large enough to meet the demand of agriculture for potassium fertilizer, and there is an urgent need to develop new resources.
As for the Charkhan Salt Lake, its resources are solid-liquid coexistence deposits, and potassium resources are mainly in liquid phase. Most importantly, the resource reserves of Charkhan are affected by numerous factors such as sunshine, temperature, precipitation, etc., which directly affect the amount of mining, and the single product development model of Charkhan Salt Lake makes the comprehensive utilization of resources low, and the resources are seriously wasted.
Since the first generation of potash people discovered the Chalhan Salt Lake in the 1950s, close to half a century, there has been no new development in the search for potash mines in the country, and the country's annual potash deficit is getting bigger and bigger, which is the reason why Penggamu would go deeper into Lop Nor.
The country attaches great importance to potash, and the search for potash has a long history.
The first generation of potassium salt people - in 1957, with the care and participation of our government and the old generation of salt experts, the Chalhan salt mine in the Qaidam Basin was discovered; in 1961, Team 16 of the Yunnan Provincial Geological Bureau and students and teachers of the Beijing Geological Institute (now China University of Geosciences), based on clues from the common people, discovered the first medium-sized potassium salt deposit in China in the Simao area of Yunnan Province; in 1972, the geological department discovered a high-temperature potassium-rich brine in Qianjiang City, Hubei Province.
The second generation of potassium salts - a handbook of salt mineral identification, co-authored by Qu Yihua, Qian Ziqiang and Han Weitian and published by the Chemical Industry Press in 1979, which gathered more than 150 salt minerals, was well received by geologists at home and abroad upon publication and is still widely circulated and used today.
This "Manual of Salt Mineral Identification" is the first systematic manual of salt mineral identification in China, and also in the world, which is liked by geologists. 1984, a new round of potassium search mobilization meeting, the National Salt Sedimentation Symposium, was held in Xining, Qinghai Province.
And Peng Gamu belongs to the first generation of potash people in China. From 1964 to 1980, Peng came to the northwest of China 15 times for scientific research, and entered the Lop Nor area three times, especially the third Lop Nor expedition, Peng led the team to create a number of firsts.
Chinese own team for the first time through the core of Lop Nor, open a new road through Lop Nor, the first time to reveal the secrets of Lop Nor ......
However, on the day of June 17, 1980, Peng Gamu left the camp in Lop Nor and walked alone deep into the desert in search of water, when he unfortunately disappeared mysteriously.
Pangamu missing news alarmed the central government, then, the relevant departments of the state sent more than a dozen times the aircraft, dozens of cars, thousands of people to pull the net to find, but all came to nothing ......
Later, the state organized several large-scale search activities for Pengamu, all ended in failure, Pengamu's disappearance became an unsolved mystery. For the mysterious disappearance of Peng Gamu in Lop Nor, online news, the author will not be here to expand.
In short, the mysterious disappearance of Pengamu, to Lop Nor on the color of terror, mystery, forbidden areas of death, so that people are deterred from Lop Nor, however, just 16 years after the mysterious disappearance of Pengamu, in 1996, a woman scientist again set foot on this "forbidden area of life", she is Professor Wang Repli.
Let's find out what the second generation of potash people, mainly Prof. Wang Yeli, have done to exploit the potash of Lop Nor.
Professor Wang was born into a family of educated people. His mother came from a famous family and went to university, and his father was a famous railroad expert who came back from abroad. Due to his father's special occupation, Wang Repli had to run around along the western railroad line with several other siblings under his mother's leadership.
In 1965, Wang Repli graduated from the Department of Geology and Geography of Peking University and gave up his assigned job to practice in the production sector: Daqing oil field, Hubei Jianghan oil field, potash formation in the Qaidam Basin, and for all these occupations, Wang Repli knows them all like the back of his hand.
Many people have explored Lop Nor before Wang Repli entered it: Mr. Peng Gamu and Mr. Xia Xuncheng in the 1980s as we mentioned earlier; the exploration team of Xinjiang Geological and Mining Bureau; the Second Hydrological Team and the Third Geological Brigade; Mr. Zheng Mianping from the Institute of Resources of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences; and the comrades from the Geological and Mining Bureau of Ruoqiang.
Combining previous research and his team's years of experience in finding potassium in the Qaidam Basin of Qinghai, Wang believes that the Tarim Basin, like the Qaidam Basin, must also have brine. Judging from the geological structure.
Water flows downhill, and the brine deposits must be in the most concave part of the Tarim Basin - Lop Nor. Still, Lop Nor is so big, where exactly is the deposit?
With the support of many experts such as Chen Yuchuan, Wang Yeli applied for the project "Potassium formation in the Lop Nor prospect". At that time, the leaders of the Bureau of Geology and Mines did not support the project, not only because Peng Jiamu had disappeared in Lop Nor and the scientists' safety was not guaranteed there, their lives were threatened, but also because the ministry did not have much funding.
But Liu Chenglin, Jiao Pengcheng, Chen Yongzhi, Yang Zhichen, Li Tingqi, Li Changhua and other members of the subject group still hope to establish the project. For this reason, Wang Repli, despite the opposition of the leadership, to the leadership of the arguments. Finally, the leaders relented and approved the project, and allocated them a sum of money to go to Lop Nor to look for potassium salt.
In 1995, Wang Yeli's group started raising supplies with 100,000 yuan in funding. In order to put this limited funding to practical use, Wang Repli and the group's partners used that a stingy: low price to buy a second-hand car eliminated by other departments, tent selection cheap ...... they can not help, transportation, personnel accommodation, food, water needed to enter the Lop Nor, plus experimental equipment, can count on the 100,000 yuan.
In fact, before going to Lop Nor, Wang Repli has prepared for the worst, she settled her elderly mother, and went to the Babaoshan cemetery to pay respect to her father, Wang Repli know that the trip is very dangerous, she did not tell her family that she was going to Lop Nor but to go to the northwest to investigate, in fact, the family knew that she was going to Lop Nor, just "Lop Nor" the name is too obscure, we do not want to break it.
In 1996, she came to Lop Nor with her team and ideal. After entering Lop Nor, she really encountered unprecedented difficulties, more than 20,000 square kilometers of Lop Nor, there is no road, no water, there are only high temperature, sandstorms and lost, such a harsh environment do not know how many scientists and explorers swallowed, in such a shitless place, even men are scared, let alone a frail woman.
In the vast desert, there is no pointing, no signage, the whole process can only rely on the compass and GPS. in October 1997, Wang Repli led the exploration team for the first time from the north into the Lop Nor, once encountered a big storm, the group lost their way, driving half a day to walk four kilometers, the whole time in the desert in a circle.
According to the plan, the exploration team to reach the destination in 3 days, but now even the shadow of Lop Nor can not be seen, and what is worse, gasoline, drinking water and food and other supplies are not enough, we all turned our attention to the "commander" - the only woman in the team.
After thinking calmly, Wang Repli came up with the "human positioning mark, every 100 meters to stand a person" approach, leading the vehicle forward, and finally out of the strange circle of lost, reached the destination. If it were not for the skills of this woman scientist, it is not known whether the team can get out of the Sea of Death (this year, 17 years after the disappearance of Peng Gamu).
Under such difficult conditions, Wang and her group have drilled more than 100 exploration wells in the 1,500 square kilometers of the Lop Nor depression.
When Wang Repli led the group to drill a deep well in the Luobei depression according to the migration pattern of the deep basin in the high mountains, a crystal clear, gushing brine made everyone excited. What is more exciting is still to come.
The potassium content of the brine here is much higher than required by industry, and with some 250 million tons of brine, it is far larger than the famous Salt Lake potassium deposit in the United States.
For 10 years, a whole decade, Wang Repli went in and out of Lop Nor six times (also documented as 10 times), just to better survey the Bu Bei depression. In 2000, Lop Nor Potash Technology Development Co., Ltd. was established, and in 2004, the state invested 8 billion RMB to develop the potash resources in the Lop Nor depression.
As a geologist, Wang is proud to have finally found potassium salt and alleviated the severe shortage of potassium salt for the country. As the first female geologist to enter and leave Lop Nor in six days, Wang's spirit of braving hardships and challenging the harsh environment is evident to all.
What is even more valuable is that Professor Wang is calm and open-minded in the face of all kinds of honors, and always serves the needs of the country with scientific research, and devotes herself to the geological career for decades. She respects her predecessors and peers, cares for the growth of her juniors, and has trained a number of excellent young and middle-aged scientists.
Prof. Wang was a clean and honest person, with a rigorous academic discipline, but did not stick to the rules, scientific innovation, unique insights, anxious about the country's urgent needs, thinking about the country's ideas, the cause of potash is firm and persistent, the pursuit of truth. She has been a teacher, a tireless teacher, and a noble advocate for future students.
Her life is a life of pursuing the truth, a life of struggling for the cause of geology and the development of the motherland, and Wang Yili has become a "shining name".
It is thanks to the efforts of a generation of scientists such as Wang Repli that Lop Nor, nowadays, has been built as the world's largest single production base of potassium sulfate fertilizer, which has not only greatly eased the tight supply situation of potassium fertilizer in China, but the county where Lop Nor is located has been removed from the hat of a poor county due to the development of potassium salt in Lop Nor.
On February 4, 2021, the female scientist Wang Repli passed away in Beijing at the age of 80 after a long illness.
Tribute to the second generation of potash people, mainly Prof. Wang Repli!