It appears the valley is still rich with borates minerals, which in turn the boron comes from. Borates are minerals containing boron, fifth element on Periodic Table, trace amounts exist in rock, soil, water, plants, and people. Boron-containing ores are among the rarest minerals in the world, and used in a variety of household and commercial products. How are borates used? 43% glass, 17% detergents, 12% ceramics & enamels, 5% plant fertilizers, and 23% other uses such as wood treatment, flame retardants, pest control, medicines, cosmetics, nuclear containments, circuit boards, and list can continue.
The Salt Flats are made up of dried salt crystals which create erratic geometic patterns on the desert floor. This photo was taken from the highway, from quite a distance - another great view is from Dante's View, where you can see the full vista.