The Black Rock Desert region is in northwestern Nevada and the northwestern Great Basin. The playa extends for approximately 100 mi (160 km) northeast from the towns of Gerlach and Empire, between the Jackson Mountains to the east and the Calico Mountains to the west. The Black Rock Desert is separated into two arms by the Black Rock Range. It lies at an elevation of 3,907 ft (1,191 m) and has an area of about 1,000 sq mi (2,600 km2).
The desert has numerous volcanic and geothermal features of the northwest Nevada volcanic region, including two Black Rock Points (west and east) at the southern end of the Black Rock Range and which have dark Permian volcanic rocks similar to another Permian black diabase dike formation in Nevada.
The continuous Fly Geyser of Fly Ranch is on private land and began during 1916 water well drilling that accidentally penetrated a geothermal source
Prospecting and mining has occurred in the Black Rock region since the mid-19th century. US Gypsum Corporation operates a gypsum mine and drywall (brand named Sheetrock) manufacturing plant in Empire, which employed 107 people and produced 266,300 tons of gypsum in 2008.
Allied Nevada Gold Corporation re-opened the Hycroft Gold Mine in 2008 after acquiring it from Vista Gold Corp. Hycroft is a strip-mining operation in the Kamma Mountains near Sulphur on the east side of the Black Rock Desert. An opal mine is in the base of the Calico Mountains on the west side of the desert.
In 1979 a fossilized Columbian Mammoth was found. Copies of the bones are now exhibited at the Nevada State Museum, Carson City.
Land speed records.
The flatness of the Black Rock Desert’s lakebed surface has led to the area’s use as a proving ground for experimental land vehicles. It was the site of two successful attempts on the World Land Speed Record.
*In 1983, Richard Noble drove the jet-powered Thrust2 car to a new record of 633 mph (1,019 km/h). Noble also headed up the team that beat the Thrust 2 record.
*In 1997, ThrustSSC became the world’s first and only supersonic car, reaching 766 mph (1,233 km/h).
Rocket launches attempting various altitude records or space flights have occurred at Black Rock. In May 1999, JP Aerospace used a rockoon (balloon-launched rocket) in an unsuccessful suborbital space flight attempt covered by CNN. The rocket reached 75,000 feet (23,000 m), which was far less than the intended Karman Line to reach space. CSXT made unsuccessful space launch attempts in 2000 and 2002 before the successful 2004 space flight. JP Aerospace returned to the desert in 2009, launching an armchair to the edge of space for Space Chair, an advertisement for Toshiba electronic products
On the 15th October 1997 Thrust SSC became the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. Piloted by Wing Commander Andy Green of the RAF, an average speed of 763.035mph over the flying mile was achieved