Table salt and potash production from brines dates from the 19th century, while magnesium production on a large scale began only in 1971. down and glaciers formed in the mountains. The lake has fluctuated greatly in size, depending on the rates of evaporation and the flow of the rivers that feed it. There was a problem. The Great Salt Lake is the largest of the lake remnants of prehistoric freshwater Lake Bonneville, the others being Bear Lake, on the Utah-Idaho border, and Utah Lake, west of Provo, Utah. It is the largest salt lake in North America. Researchers think this is the likely explanation, due to evidence of heavy rainfall to the south of ancient Lake Bonneville, in an area stretching between present-day Utah and the Baja peninsula. Scientists thought this was indirectly formed by widespread glaciers, but a study suggests it was instead created by heavy tropical rains moving north. This photograph was taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station in the summer of 2001. oldest known human remains in North America, Woman's garden 'stepping stone' turns out to be an ancient Roman artifact, COVID-19 vaccines may not work as well against South African variant, experts worry, Largest canyon in the solar system revealed in stunning new images, Yellowstone's reawakened geyser won't spark a volcanic 'big one', Jaguar kills another predatory cat in never-before-seen footage, Hikers find ghostly 'hair ice' clinging to trees in an Irish forest. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Updates? The Great Salt Lake lends its name to Salt Lake City, originally named "Great Salt Lake City" by the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) Brigham Young, who led a group of Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley southeast of the lake on July 24, 1847. Friday, April 1, 2011. A thick, chocolaty sludge has formed on Utah's Great Salt Lake, and state parks officials say talk of an oil slick is unfounded. Great Salt Lake is too saline to support fish and most other aquatic species. He named the lake after Captain Bonneville, an earlier explorer in the region to the north, but one who never visited Great Salt Lake. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. Instead, researchers think that large storms from the tropics came north, dropping large amounts of rain to form these ancient lakes, said Mitch Lyle, study author and Texas A&M researcher. The resulting new body of water was called the Newfoundland Evaporation Basin. The study affects the way scientists think about North America's ancient climate, and, indirectly, what may happen in the future, in our warming world. Live Science is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Utah’s Great Salt Lake is loaded with mercury, and scientists are trying to figure out whether Nevada’s gold mines are part of the problem The Great Salt Lake. This geological phenomenon, which gained its name from the thin layer of salt that covers the entire area, has attracted geologists and sightseers for years. "It has been assumed that all the great basin lakes operated in unison, i.e., that the whole West got more precipitation at the same instant," Lyle told OurAmazingPlanet. Gilbert established that the lake, with a maximum depth of at least 1,000 feet, covered an area of about 20,000 square miles in what is now northwestern Utah, northeastern Nevada, and southeastern Idaho. The lake level rapidly fell, then stabilized. Great Salt Lake geology is a study in contrasts. The lake is fed by the Bear, Weber, and Jordan rivers and has no outlet. Surrounded by great stretches of sand, salt land, and marsh, the Great Salt Lake remains eerily isolated from the nearby cities, towns, and other human habitations, though in recent years means have been found to turn its apparent sterility to a profit in both economic and recreational terms. More detailed investigations were made by Captain John C. Frémont in 1843 and 1845. Salt lakes form when the water flowing into the lake, containing salt or minerals, cannot leave because the lake is endorheic (terminal). yas (salt flats) in the basin, Great Salt Lake is believed to have first formed about 11,000 years ago when the lake rose from a smaller saline body to about 4,250 to 4,275 feet at the Gilbert Level. It has a much greater salinity than the oceans, however, since natural evaporation exceeds the supply of water from the rivers feeding the lake. After the ice age the earth's climate became drier and Lake Bonneville gradually receded to form Great Salt Lake. About two million tons of dissolved salts enter the lake each … Visit our corporate site. The Mormons’ settlement in 1847 of their “promised land,” on the nearby site of Salt Lake City, brought the region more fully into national awareness. © In this case, tropical rains formed huge lakes that served as home to ancient inhabitants of North America. The study of the Great Basin region by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1890 was an important source of information about the lake, and later studies have been led by that agency. There are millions of lakes in the world. The Great Salt Lake in Utah is the last remnant of Lake Bonneville, which once covered much of the state. The massive water body (approximately 32,000 square miles) covered most of the Utah territory with depths in areas measuring more than 1,000 feet. It has an average depth of 14 feet with a maximum depth of 33 feet. Follow him on Twitter @Douglas_Main. Lake Bonneville's demise came with reduced precipitation and evaporation, but most of its water was lost as it overflowed through Red Rock Pass in Idaho after the Bear River was diverted to Lake Bonneville following lava flows in the area. Like the Dead Sea, the Great Salt Lake exists within an arid environment and has chemical characteristics similar to that of the oceans. The Great Salt Lake is the largest salt lake that can be found in the Western hemisphere, but its impressive statistics don’t end there. Because the lake’s main tributaries enter from the south, the water level of the southern section is several inches higher than that of the northern part. More recently, the Pleistocene glaciers overrode the area as far south as Long Island, blanketing the area in a mile thick sheet of ice. Along the shores of Antelope Island, for example, one can find rocks kicked out of volcanoes 3 billion years ago – and gravel formed in the 1980s when the lake reached its highest level this century. Were that hypothesis correct, there would have been heavy rainfall between the coast and the lakes, dropped there by weather systems moving east, the authors of the new study reasoned. Over the years, Bonneville evaporated, leaving behind today's Great Salt Lake, and other smaller bodies of water. It is also the fourth largest lake in the entire world that doesn’t flow to another water system. Where will you find a polynya? Salt Resources: google ,World Book, and youtube The Great Salt Lake is Having formally inherited the authority of Joseph Smith, he led thousands of more followers to the Great Salt Lake in 1848. Look south from Buffalo Point for an outstanding view of Lake Bonneville terraces carved into the island as high as a thousand feet above the Great Salt Lake's surface. For example, some of the oldest known human remains in North America have been found near Paisley Cave in present-day southeastern Oregon, on the banks of an ancient lake, Lyle said. Several types of algae live in the lake. One leading theory: Enormous ice sheets that once covered much of North America split the jet stream that runs eastward across the northern United States and Canada and redirected storms and rainfall southward over the western states. The Great Salt Lake is both the largest body of water between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean and the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere. It's actually more gooey and disgusting than that. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Stanford Report, September 27, 2012 Tropical rain may have formed Utah's Great Salt Lake, says Stanford researcher New research suggests the Great Basin was flooded during the last glacial period by storms moving up from the tropics. The precursor to Lake Champlain formed about 200 million years ago. It formed about 32,000 years ago and lasted until approximately 16,800 years ago. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, Great Salt Lake, lake in northern Utah, U.S., the largest inland body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most saline inland bodies of water in the world. Great Salt Lake is a remnant of prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which covered an extensive area of the Great Basin and was once about 1,000 feet deep. Great Salt Lake is a remnant of prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which covered an extensive area of the Great Basin and was once about 1,000 feet deep. We're also on Facebook and Google+. At that time the stretching of continents caused a massive piece of bedrock to fall down between two parallel faults forming a deep canyon known as a graben valley. Other large waves of pioneers followed. The lake has no outlet to the ocean and also has a much higher level of salinity than seawater. The Bear, Weber, and Jordan rivers carry more than 1.1 million tons of salts annually into the lake. NY 10036. Lake Bonneville was a prehistoric pluvial lake that formed approximately 32,000 years ago and existing until approximately 14,500 years ago. The Great Salt Lake’s record high levels in the mid-1980s threatened the Lucin Cutoff, highways, and sewage-treatment plants along the shore, and in 1987 pumps were installed that began draining some of the lake’s excess waters into the Great Salt Lake Desert to the west. Formed late in the Pleistocene Epoch about 30,000 years ago, Lake Bonneville at high water covered almost 20,000 square miles (52,000 square km) of present-day western Utah and also extended into modern Nevada and Idaho. The marshes, mudflats, and islands, however, attract much waterfowl, including pelicans, herons, cormorants, terns, and gulls, while Antelope Island has been made a refuge for bison. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Stansbury Island in the Great Salt Lake, northern Utah, with salt deposits in the foreground. Formed late in the Pleistocene Epoch about 30,000 years ago, Lake Bonneville at high water covered almost 20,000 square miles (52,000 square km) of present-day western Utah and also extended into modern Nevada … Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, northern Utah. Climate change can have very specific local effects, and change what areas receive rain, and when, he said. A lake is a body of water that is surrounded by land. An enormous lake once covered much of Utah. [50 Amazing Facts About Earth]. BONNEVILLE SHORELINES Lake Bonneville rose until it finally found an outlet at Red Rock Pass in Idaho. The lake’s basin is defined by the foothills of the Wasatch Range to the north, east, and south and by the Great Salt Lake Desert, a remnant of the bed of Lake Bonneville, to the west. "But our data show that large-scale patterns developed and changed over thousand-year time frames.". But that hypothesis is wrong, according to a study published Sept. 27 in the journal Science. Algae By; Terisha Ray How the Great Salt Lakes Natural resources affect animals. Thank you for signing up to Live Science. Their analysis found that the area was quite dry indeed, suggesting that the altered jet stream wasn't the source of the lakes. On what body of water did the ancient city of Troy lie? that occupied much of western Utah. The Great Salt Lake is the largest of the lake remnants of prehistoric freshwater Lake Bonneville, the others being Bear Lake, on the Utah-Idaho border, and Utah Lake, west of Provo, Utah. (Photo: karma17/Creative Commons) The high salt content makes the lake itself uninhabitable for all but a few minor forms of life, such as brine shrimp. How the Great Salt Lake was formed Natural Resources The Great Salt Lake has many natural resources Examples: Salt and algae. But about 14,000 years ago, the Southwest was home to many large lakes, such as Lake Bonneville, which covered much of present-day Utah and was nearly as large as Lake Michigan. Sort out the facts and discover where some of the longest, shortest, and hottest bodies of water lie. The Great Salt Lake, which covers 2,500 to 6,000 square kilometers (960 to 2,300 square miles) and is about 10 meters (33 feet) deep, is a remnant of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, which covered 50,000 square kilometers (19,300 square miles) and was 300 meters (980 feet) deep. During succeeding glacial periods, large quantities of freshwater entered this intermontane basin and drained out through the Snake River—ultimately into the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. The small north-central Oklahoma wonder called the Great Salt Plains, known for its hourglass-shaped selenite crystals, is a flat, bare, eleven-thousand-acre slab of land in Alfalfa County. Glacial Activity. The Great Salt Lake is a very large salt lake found in the state of Utah in the United States. Basalt flows erupted through the lake. To reconstruct ancient levels of rainfall in the area, the scientists looked at levels of old lakes, and analyzed the type of pollen found in sediment cores in the ocean. The 30-mile- (48-kilometre-) long Lucin Cutoff, an east-west causeway laid down for a rail line in 1959, connects the cities of Ogden and Lucin, splits the lake, and affects the water level. It is the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere and largest lake in the United States, apart from the great lakes, with a surface area of about 4,400 km 2 (1,700 sq mi). (Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) Stay up to date on the coronavirus outbreak by signing up to our newsletter today. It formed during the last ice age when meltwater from numerous glaciers filled the basin and evaporation rates were much lower. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/place/Great-Salt-Lake, LiveScience - Facts About Great Salt Lake, Great Salt Lake - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve is part of the wetlands of the Great Salt Lake. A small amount of dissolved salts, leached from the soil and rocks, is deposited in Great Salt Lake every year by rivers that flow into the lake. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. The lake has enough "critical mass" to remain a lake but inflow from agricultural runoff and precipitation are not sufficient to outpace evaporation, which increases the concentration of salts in the water. Extraction of salt from the waters of the Great Salt Lake, Utah. It has become important not only as a source of minerals but also as a beach and water-sports attraction and a wildlife preserve. Lake Bonneville covered most of western Utah. The lake was surveyed in 1850, and in 1869 the last spike of America’s first transcontinental railroad was driven near the lake’s northeastern shore. The total dissolved mineral accumulation in the lake basin is some 5 billion tons, mainly sodium and chloride, though sulfate, magnesium, and potassium also are abundant. At this time it was about three times as large as present Great Salt Lake … Salt Lake City was founded on July 24, 1847, by a group of Mormon pioneers. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Much of the salt now contained in the Great Salt Lake was originally in the water of Lake Bonneville. The lake was visited in 1771 by the English explorer Samuel Hearne, and trading posts were established there (1786 and 1815) near the mouth of the Slave River (present-day Fort Resolution), but it was not completely surveyed until the early 1920s. During the interglacial and postglacial periods, however, water levels decreased and the outflows were cut off. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Water, therefore, could escape only through evaporation, and the mineral salts from the inflowing rivers remained trapped in the lake. Please refresh the page and try again. At times of median water level, the lake is generally less than 15 feet (4.5 metres) deep, with a maximum depth of 35 feet (11 metres). The Great Salt Lake is different from other inland lakes because it has no outlets to the ocean. The pioneers, led by Brigham Young, were the first non-Indians to settle permanently in the Salt Lake Valley. The part of this desert known as the Bonneville Salt Flats has become an automobile raceway, the site of many trials for world land-speed records. At high level the lake’s surface is 4,212 feet (1,284 metres) above sea level, and at low level it is 4,191 feet (1,277 metres). The water then evaporates, leaving behind any dissolved salts and thus increasing its salinity, making a salt lake an excellent place for salt production. Brine … New York, The lake appeared on 18th-century maps of the continent through reports of explorer-trappers and Indian tales as a semilegendary body alternately named Timpanogos or Buenaventura, depending on the source. The Great Basin valleys had no outlet to the ocean, so they filled up with water. Near the visitor\u2019s center at Great Salt Lake State Park are four salt mounds, or salt formations, that have never been documented on the Great Salt Lake. You will receive a verification email shortly. Eleven small islands, the largest of which are Antelope and Fremont, lie south of the cutoff. Its surface area has varied from about 2,400 square miles (6,200 square km) at its highest levels in 1873 and the mid-1980s to about 950 square miles (2,460 square km) at its lowest level in 1963. "The Great Salt Lake is a hallow body of saltwater in Northwestern Utah. The first white explorers whose accounts are fully credited were the trappers Étienne Provost and Jim Bridger, who came upon the lake independently in 1824–25. Reach Douglas Main at dmain@techmedianetwork.com. The lake in question, called Hopi Lake or Lake Bidahochi, stretched approximately 112 miles (180 kilometers) across Arizona and New Mexico, a length equivalent to Utah's Great Salt Lake. The lake’s varying shoreline consists of beaches, marshes, and mudflats. The white, salt-encrusted floor of the ancient lake has been used by racing enthusiasts for decades; the faint outlines of Bonneville Speedway appears near the top right. The U.S. Southwest typically evokes images of endless deserts, without a drop of water in sight. Even though Lake Bonneville was fairly fresh, it contained salt that concentrated as its water evaporated. Omissions? The Salton Sea in California was created by manmade accident in the early 1900s. Three rivers empty into the lake, but the only way water can exit the lake is by evaporation. Just how those huge original lakes got there, though, has been a long-unanswered question. Rainfall affects the type of plants that grow in an area and how much pollen they produce — pollen that is blown out over the ocean and settles on the seafloor. The founding group numbered 148, consisting of 143 men, three women, and two children. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. The Great Salt Lake is the major remnant of Lake Bonneville, a large freshwater lake of the Pleistocene era (75,000–7,250 B.C.) These flats are where many land speed records have been set. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. They are found on every continent and in every kind of environmentin mountains and deserts, on plains, and near seashores.
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