Salt lake

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A salt lake or saline lake is a landlocked body of water that has a concentration of salts (typically sodium chloride) and other dissolved minerals significantly higher than most lakes (often defined as at least three grams of salt per litre). In some cases, salt lakes have a higher concentration of salt than sea water; such lakes can also be termed hypersaline lakes . An alkalic salt lake that has a high content of carbonate is sometimes termed a soda lake .[ citation needed ]


One saline lake classification differentiates between:


Salton lake in Iran with salt mounds Soltan salt lake iran.jpg
Salton lake in Iran with salt mounds

Salt lakes form when the water flowing into the lake, containing salt or minerals, cannot leave because the lake is endorheic (terminal). The water then evaporates, leaving behind any dissolved salts and thus increasing its salinity, making a salt lake an excellent place for salt production. High salinity can also lead to halophilic flora and fauna in and around the lake; sometimes, in fact, the result may be an absence or near absence of multicellular life in the salt lake.

If the amount of water flowing into a lake is less than the amount evaporated, the lake will eventually disappear and leave a dry lake (also called playa or salt flat).[ citation needed ]

Brine lakes consist of water that has reached salt saturation or near saturation (brine), and may also be heavily saturated with other materials.[ citation needed ]

Most brine lakes develop as a result of high evaporation rates in an arid climate with a lack of an outlet to the ocean. The high salt content in these bodies of water may come from minerals deposited from the surrounding land. Another source for the salt may be that the body of water was formerly connected to the ocean. While the water evaporates from the lake, the salt remains. Eventually, the body of water will become brine.[ citation needed ]

Because of the density of brine, swimmers are more buoyant in brine than in fresh or ordinary salt water. Examples of such brine lakes are the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake.[ citation needed ]

Bodies of brine may also form on the ocean floor at cold seeps. These are sometimes called brine lakes, but are more frequently referred to as brine pools. It is possible to observe waves on the surface of these bodies. [2]

Man-made bodies of brine are created for edible salt production. These can be referred to as brine ponds.[ citation needed ]


Astronaut's photo of Bakhtegan and Maharloo salt lakes near Shiraz, Iran. Salt lakes are particularly common in Iran. Shiraz and areal.jpg
Astronaut's photo of Bakhtegan and Maharloo salt lakes near Shiraz, Iran. Salt lakes are particularly common in Iran.
Lake Elton, Russia Bereg El'ton s vysoty ptich'ego poliota.jpg
Lake Elton, Russia
Mono Lake, United States A118, Mono Lake, California, USA, 2004.jpg
Mono Lake, United States
Salt transport by a camel train on Lake Karum in Ethiopia. Salt transport by a camel train on Lake Assale (Karum) in Ethiopia.jpg
Salt transport by a camel train on Lake Karum in Ethiopia.

Note: Some of the following are also partly fresh and/or brackish water.

See also

Related Research Articles

Brackish water Water with salinity between freshwater and seawater

Brackish water, also sometimes termed brack water, is water occurring in a natural environment having more salinity than freshwater, but not as much as seawater. It may result from mixing seawater with fresh water together, as in estuaries, or it may occur in brackish fossil aquifers. The word comes from the Middle Dutch root "brak". Certain human activities can produce brackish water, in particular civil engineering projects such as dikes and the flooding of coastal marshland to produce brackish water pools for freshwater prawn farming. Brackish water is also the primary waste product of the salinity gradient power process. Because brackish water is hostile to the growth of most terrestrial plant species, without appropriate management it is damaging to the environment.

Dead Sea Salt lake bordering Jordan and Israel

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.

The halophiles, named after the Greek word for "salt-loving", are extremophiles that thrive in high salt concentrations. While most halophiles are classified into the domain Archaea, there are also bacterial halophiles and some eukaryotic species, such as the alga Dunaliella salina and fungus Wallemia ichthyophaga. Some well-known species give off a red color from carotenoid compounds, notably bacteriorhodopsin. Halophiles can be found in water bodies with salt concentration more than five times greater than that of the ocean, such as the Great Salt Lake in Utah, Owens Lake in California, the Dead Sea, and in evaporation ponds. They are theorized to be a possible candidate for extremophiles living in the salty subsurface water ocean of Jupiter's Europa and other similar moons.

Salinity The proportion of salt dissolved in a body of water

Salinity is the saltiness or amount of salt dissolved in a body of water, called saline water. This is usually measured in . Salinity is an important factor in determining many aspects of the chemistry of natural waters and of biological processes within it, and is a thermodynamic state variable that, along with temperature and pressure, governs physical characteristics like the density and heat capacity of the water.

Brine A highly concentrated solution of a salt in water

Brine is a high-concentration solution of salt (NaCl) in water (H2O). In different contexts, brine may refer to salt solutions ranging from about 3.5% (a typical concentration of seawater, on the lower end of solutions used for brining foods) up to about 26% (a typical saturated solution, depending on temperature). Lower levels of concentration are called by different names: fresh water, brackish water, and saline water.

Evaporite A water-soluble mineral sediment formed by evaporation from an aqueous solution

Evaporite is the term for a water-soluble mineral sediment that results from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporite deposits: marine, which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine, which are found in standing bodies of water such as lakes. Evaporites are considered sedimentary rocks and are formed by chemical sediments.

Seawater Water from a sea or an ocean

Seawater, or salt water, is water from a sea or ocean. On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5%. This means that every kilogram of seawater has approximately 35 grams (1.2 oz) of dissolved salts. Average density at the surface is 1.025 kg/l. Seawater is denser than both fresh water and pure water because the dissolved salts increase the mass by a larger proportion than the volume. The freezing point of seawater decreases as salt concentration increases. At typical salinity, it freezes at about −2 °C (28 °F). The coldest seawater still in the liquid state ever recorded was found in 2010, in a stream under an Antarctic glacier: the measured temperature was −2.6 °C (27.3 °F). Seawater pH is typically limited to a range between 7.5 and 8.4. However, there is no universally accepted reference pH-scale for seawater and the difference between measurements based on different reference scales may be up to 0.14 units.

Endorheic basin Closed drainage basin that allows no outflow

An endorheic basin is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans, but drainage converges instead into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal, that equilibrate through evaporation. They are also called closed or terminal basins or internal drainage systems or basins. Endorheic regions contrast with exorheic regions. Endorheic water bodies include some of the largest lakes in the world, such as the Caspian Sea, the world's largest inland body of water.

Salt pan (geology) Flat expanse of ground covered with salt and other minerals

Natural salt pans or salt flats are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun. They are found in deserts and are natural formations.

Dry lake Basin or depression that formerly contained a standing surface water body

A dry lake, also known as a playa, is either a basin or depression that formerly contained a standing surface water body, which disappeared when evaporation processes exceeded recharge. If the floor of a dry lake is covered by deposits of alkaline compounds, it is known as an alkali flat. If covered with salt, it is known as a salt flat.

Halocline Stratification of a body of water due to salinity differences

In oceanography, a halocline is a cline, a subtype of chemocline caused by a strong, vertical salinity gradient within a body of water. Because salinity affects the density of seawater, it can play a role in its vertical stratification. Increasing salinity by one kg/m3 results in an increase of seawater density of around 0.7 kg/m3.

Salt evaporation pond Shallow artificial pond designed to extract salts from sea water or other brines

A salt evaporation pond is a shallow artificial salt pan designed to extract salts from sea water or other brines. Natural salt pans are geological formations that are also created by water evaporating and leaving behind salts. Some salt evaporation ponds are only slightly modified from their natural version, such as the ponds on Great Inagua in the Bahamas, or the ponds in Jasiira, a few kilometres south of Mogadishu, where seawater is trapped and left to evaporate in the sun.

Lake Assal (Djibouti)

Lake Assal is a crater lake in central-western Djibouti. It is located at the western end of Gulf of Tadjoura between Arta Region, and Tadjoura Region, touching Dikhil Region, at the top of the Great Rift Valley, some 120 km (75 mi) west of Djibouti city. Lake Assal is a saline lake that lies 155 m (509 ft) below sea level in the Afar Triangle, making it the lowest point on land in Africa and the third-lowest point on Earth after the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. No outflow occurs from the lake, and due to high evaporation, the salinity level of its waters is 10 times that of the sea, making it the third most saline body of water in the world behind Don Juan Pond and Gaet'ale Pond. Lake Assal is the world's largest salt reserve, which is exploited under four concessions awarded in 2002 at the southeast end of the lake; the major share of production is held by Société d’Exploitation du Lac and Société d’Exploitation du Salt Investment S.A de Djibouti.

Bristol Lake

Bristol Lake is a dry lake in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California, 42 km (26 mi) northeast of Twentynine Palms.

Brine pool large area of brine on the ocean basin

A brine pool, sometimes called an underwater, a deepwater lake, or a brine lake, is a volume of brine collected in a seafloor depression. The pools are dense bodies of water that have a salinity that is three to eight times greater than the surrounding ocean. Brine pools are commonly found below polar sea ice and in the deep ocean. Those below sea ice form through a process called brine rejection. For deep-sea brine pools, salt is necessary to increase the salinity gradient. The salt can come from one of two processes: the dissolution of large salt deposits through salt tectonics or geothermally heated brine issued from tectonic spreading centers. The brine often contains high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide and methane, which provide energy to chemosynthetic organisms that live near the pool. These creatures are often extremophiles and symbionts. Deep-sea and polar brine pools are toxic to marine animals due to their high salinity and anoxic properties, which can ultimately lead to toxic shock and possibly death. The frequency of brine pool formation coupled with their uniquely high salinity has made them a candidate for research regarding ways to harness their properties to improve human science.

<i>Haloquadratum</i> Genus of archaea

Haloquadratum is a halophilic genus of the family Halobacteriaceae. The first species to be identified in this group, Haloquadratum walsbyi unusual in that its cells are shaped like square, flat boxes.

Hypersaline lake Landlocked body of water that contains concentrations of salts greater than the sea

A hypersaline lake is a landlocked body of water that contains significant concentrations of sodium chloride or other salts, with saline levels surpassing that of ocean water.

Blood Falls

Blood Falls is an outflow of an iron oxide-tainted plume of saltwater, flowing from the tongue of Taylor Glacier onto the ice-covered surface of West Lake Bonney in the Taylor Valley of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Victoria Land, East Antarctica.

Dabusun Lake Saltwater lake in China

Dabusun or Dabuxun Lake, alternately known as Dabasun Nor, is a lake beside the town Qarhan, just north of Golmud in the Haixi Prefecture of Qinghai Province in northwestern China. Fed by the main course of the Golmud River, it is the largest present-day lake in the Qarhan Playa. Like the other lakes of the surrounding Qaidam Basin, it is extremely saline, with 307–338 grams of salt per liter of water (2.5 lb/gallon).

Pikrolimni (lake) Endorheic, alkaline salt lake in Kilkis prefecture, Greece

Lake Pikrolimni is an endorheic, alkaline salt lake in Kilkis prefecture, Greece. It is located on the border of the Kilkis and Thessaloniki regional units, about 40 km northwest of Thessaloniki. The lake is hypersaline, has rather shallow waters (0.5–0.7 m) and a shoreline of about 8.5 km. The water surface area shows significant seasonal variation (3.2–4.5 km2) due to evaporation in the summer months, with an average value of 3.7 km2.


  1. Hammer, U. T. (1986). Saline Lake Ecosystems of the World. Springer. pp. 14–15. ISBN   90-6193-535-0 . Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  2. "NOAA Ocean Explorer: Expedition to the Deep Slope: May 31 Log". Retrieved 30 March 2018.

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