January 24th, 1848, began like any other day, unassuming with no intention to alter history forever... until it did.
A lucky miner struck gold in Sutter's Mill, spurring what PBS referred to as "the most significant event of the first half of the nineteenth century." Not long after the discovery, hundreds of thousands of people from more than a dozen countries rushed to the Golden State in search of gold and good fortune. This event became known as the "Gold Rush:" an event that continues to be studied in American History classes today.
According to KTLA, officials from the U.S. Department of Energy believe that they discovered the site of the next Gold Rush, only this time, its lithium.
So, where exactly is this precious resource available in such abundance?
California's largest lake, the Salton Sea (located in Salton City), continues to dry out, revealing lithium deposits, a.k.a "white gold," amid rocks that cover the lake bed. Scientists previously hypothesized the existence of lithium buried under the lake, but were unaware of the amount until now.
KTLA mentioned that the newly discovered lithium levels are high enough to power 375 million electric vehicles in addition to everyday technology like phones, laptops, and tablets. This discovery will also propel an economic boom for the Salton City region where 21 percent of the population lives in poverty. Jeff Marootian, principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, commented on the soon-to-be boom, citing its positive effect on locals, the economy, and the future of "clean energy."
“This report confirms the once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a domestic lithium industry at home while also expanding clean, flexible electricity generation. Using American innovation, we can lead the clean energy future, create jobs and a strong domestic supply chain, and boost our national energy security.”
Analysts from the University of California Berkeley measured lithium concentrations across the lake and concluded that the current supply could last up to 30 years, increasing the possibility of technological advancement.