Inside the psychedelic salt mine: Abandoned Russian tunnels where mind-bending patterns naturally cover every surface

MailOnline | February 5, 2014 | By Sara Malm

Hundreds of feet below a Russian city is an abandoned salt mine which might as well be the inside of a rave.

The walls are covered with psychedelic patterns, caused by the natural layers of mineral carnallite creating swirls throughout the colored rock.

Carnallite is used in the process of plant fertilization, and is most often yellow to white or reddish, but can sometimes be blue or even completely colorless.

Jaw dropping acid: The psychadelic walls inside the abandoned salt mine in Yekaterinburg, Russia more than 650ft under the surface
Jaw dropping acid: The psychadelic walls inside the abandoned salt mine in Yekaterinburg, Russia more than 650ft under the surface
Beauty below: Although the patterns appear man-made, they are all formed by layers upon layers of minerals which were mined for their use in fertilizers
Beauty below: Although the patterns appear man-made, they are all formed by layers upon layers of minerals which were mined for their use in fertilizers
Scratching the surface: The mineral carnallite, a hydrated potassium magnesium chloride, decorates the empty tunnels under Yekaterinburg
Scratching the surface: The mineral carnallite, a hydrated potassium magnesium chloride, decorates the empty tunnels under Yekaterinburg

Although a small part of the mine is still in use, miles of tunnels now lay abandoned and are only accessible with a special government permit.

But that didn’t stop photographer, Mikhail Mishainik, 29, from exploring the network of passageways under ground near the industrial city of Yekaterinburg, Russia.
The Russian adventurer spent over 20 hours exploring the dimly lit labyrinth and has stayed overnight on at least three occasions.

But if sleeping 650ft below the Earth’s surface isn’t nerve wracking enough, Mikhail and his friends are also at risk of gas leaks and landslides.

Mikhail said: ‘The mines are huge and stretch many kilometres in width and length, a single tunnel can be over four miles long. It is hard to describe how it feels being so far down, you lose all track of time and the air is very dry, you always feel thirsty.’

Naturally unnatural: The minerals give the walls blight colours and 'psychedelic' patterns in yellow, red, blue and green
Naturally unnatural: The minerals give the walls blight colours and ‘psychedelic’ patterns in yellow, red, blue and green
Photographer Mikhail Mishainik, 29, spent several days and nights  hundreds of feet underground to photograph the salt mine
Photographer Mikhail Mishainik, 29, spent several days and nights
hundreds of feet underground to photograph the salt mine
 Disco mines: Carnallite is most often yellow to white or reddish, but can sometimes be blue or even completely colourless
Disco mines: Carnallite is most often yellow to white or reddish, but can sometimes be blue
or even completely colourless
Hidden treasures: Although a small part of the Yekaterinburg mine is still in use, miles of tunnels now lay abandoned and are only accessible with a special government permit
Hidden treasures: Although a small part of the Yekaterinburg mine is still in use, miles of tunnels now lay abandoned and are only accessible with a special government permit

‘The air is filled with small particles of salt and if we didn’t have our torches switched on it would be pitch black.

‘It is easy to get lost as many of the passageways look the same, we navigate our way around very carefully.

Many people know about the mines but it is very difficult to access them if you don’t have an official permit.

‘We take our safety very seriously but of course there are always dangers.

‘There is the possibility of a gas leak from chemicals such as methane, hydrogen sulphide carbon dioxide as well the risk of a landslide.

‘The danger element is part of the fun and it’s a special feeling being somewhere very few people have seen.’

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