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Great Salt Lake - 1

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. The lake is fed by the
Bear, Weber, and Jordan rivers and has no outlet. The lake has fluctuated greatly in size, depending
on the rates of evaporation and the flow of the rivers that feed it. 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. 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). 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).
Like the Dead Sea, the Great Salt Lake exists within an arid environment and has chemical
characteristics similar to that of the oceans. It has a much greater salinitythan the oceans, however,
since natural evaporation exceeds the supply of water from the rivers feeding the lake.
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. It
has become important not only as a source of minerals but also as a beach and water-sports
attraction and a wildlife preserve.
Surface Features And Chemistry
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. The part of this
desert known as the Bonneville Salt Flatshas become an automobile raceway, the site of many trials
for world land-speed records. The lake’s varying shoreline consists of beaches, marshes, and
mudflats. 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.
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. Eleven small islands, the largest of which are
Antelope and Fremont, lie south of the cutoff. The Great Salt Lake’s record high levels in the mid1980s 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. The resulting new body of water was called the Newfoundland Evaporation