About 400 million years ago, our state was once called a Michigan Basin. It was separated from the ocean by a bar of land.As the basin sunk deeper into the Earth, the ocean’s salty water filled it up then the ocean receded, the water evaporated and huge salt deposits were left behind under ground.

More than 100 years ago, the deposit was discovered about 1,200 feet below metro Detroit. To get down to the mine, the miners descend a shaft that is taller than the Fisher Building and the Renaissance Center stacked on top of each other.

Here, they mine and transport equipment on roads that weave their way underground, like a city. At its busiest, the mind produced 8,000 pounds of rock salt a month.

Salt’s early uses involved the processing of leather furniture and curing meats before modern refrigeration. Today, the mine mostly supplies businesses with rock salt for use in products that melt ice.

Geologists, though, say the Detroit mine could supply the world’s needs for centuries. So … at the next family dinner ask your kids to pass the salt and share this story of the Detroit salt mines!

Content provided by Oakland University.


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