The Great Salt Lake Enigma: Science Shows Anomalies – Evidence of a Global Flood?

The Great Salt Lake Enigma: Science Shows Anomalies – Evidence of a Global Flood?

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When the first American settlers reached the shore of the Great Salt Lake in the middle of the 19th century, many of them believed that this vast inland sea was a remnant of the floodwaters that had swept across the whole Earth in the Great Deluge. At that time, the acceptance of the Biblical deluge as a real and historical event was as universal as the flood itself was believed to be, among the educated and uneducated alike.

The Great Salt Lake of Utah, USA. 1875.

The Great Salt Lake of Utah, USA. 1875. ( CC BY 2.0 )

The currently accepted explanation of the Great Salt Lake’s formation is much more prosaic. According to geologists, the Great Salt Lake (Utah, USA) is a remnant of a once much larger lake named Lake Bonneville that has since largely evaporated away. Supposedly, Lake Bonneville grew to such a large size because the region experienced much more precipitation during the Ice Age compared to today, and has shrunk to its present size due to decreasing rainfall following the ending of the last Ice Age. Also, scientists say that the Great Salt Lake’s salts originate from the rivers that bring in small amounts of dissolved salts, which then accumulate in the lake because it has no outlet. Utah’s official state website confirms this: “[it] is salty because it does not have an outlet. Tributary rivers are constantly bringing in small amounts of salt dissolved in their fresh water flow. Once in the Great Salt Lake much of the water evaporates leaving the salt behind.” In this article, I shall argue against the currently accepted explanation of the Great Salt Lake’s origins and attempt to rehabilitate the long-dismissed hypothesis of its oceanic origins.

Origins of The Great Salt Lake

Let us examine the official explanation of the origin of the Great Salt Lake’s salts line by line.

ISS/NASA imagery of the Great Salt Lake. Great Salt Lake, Utah, to the right (east) are the Wasatch Mountains, to the lower right is Salt Lake City, Utah.

ISS/NASA imagery of the Great Salt Lake. Great Salt Lake, Utah, to the right (east) are the Wasatch Mountains, to the lower right is Salt Lake City, Utah. ( Public Domain )

First, it is stated that “[the Great Salt Lake] is salty because it does not have an outlet.” I will not dispute that the second part of this statement, namely “it does not have an outlet” is true. The Great Salt Lake certainly does not have an outlet, meaning that rivers flow into the lake (the Bear, Weber, and Provo/Jordan rivers), but no rivers flow out. Such a lake is a specific example of a general class of lakes called endorheic lakes , and the drainage basins within which these lakes are found are called endorheic basins , which are drainage basins from which no rivers flow out. The vast majority of the millions of lakes found across the world are not endorheic lakes; that is, almost all lakes have rivers that flow out of them, as well as into them.

The second statement in the Utah state website’s official explanation reads: “tributary rivers are constantly bringing in small amounts of salt dissolved in their fresh water flow.” This statement is also true, as can be verified by a Scientific American article written by Arthur Pillsbury:

“All natural waters, including those described as fresh, contain salts. A virgin stream emerging from a mountain watershed may contain as little as 50 parts per miIlion p.p.m.) of "salt," or total dissolved solids. Ocean water averages about 35,000 p.p.m., or about 3.5 percent, of dissolved solids.”

Mr. Pillsbury then goes on to emphasize that the word “salts,” in this context, does not mean only sodium and chloride, which are the primary constituents of the familiar table salt, but other ions, including but not limited to sodium, chloride, sulfate, potassium, calcium, and carbonate. Later on, he explains how these streams end up containing these minute concentrations of salt, namely through the action of weathering and erosion:

Weathering takes place under conditions where there is ample opportunity for the mineral crystals that constitute rock to oxidize. Although weathering embraces physical, chemical and biological processes, the physical processes are pervasive and central. Mechanical action fractures rock, exposing a far greater surface area to weathering agents. For example, the alternate freezing and thawing of water in the crevices of the rock exerts forces of compression and expansion that can break down the strongest material. Flowing water, wind and the grinding action of rocks in the bed of streams and the bottom of glaciers all contribute to physical weathering. Weathering manufactures both salts and the particles of rock that are borne from the uplands to the lowlands, where they are the principal constituents of soil.

Comments

This is an interesting theory, and I'm glad to see science put to the test this way.

You made one error, and that may affect your calculations. Lake Bonneville covered a much larger area than Salt Lake, extending nearly as far as the Idaho State Line and covering the Bonneville Salt Flats and more. It broke through an ice dam and escaped to the sea via the Snake River Valley, much of which was carved out by the rush of water. Because of the larger area, and natural geologic changes, other rivers than the ones for which you did the analysis may have flowed into Lake Bonneville, the residues of which may/could remain in the water today.

While your theory may, in fact, be true, it will be beneficial to clear this up before going further with it.

Thanks for your hard work!

M.T. Noah's picture

The US plains were once completely under ocean, and for a good looooong time, too.  No flood needed.  But it's subsequent uplift would have left pockets of ocean, which would fit the data Mr Yoon shared here regarding the Great Salt Lake.  Not a mystery, sadly.  But I'm glad he explored it! And really enjoyed his detailed focus!  <3

I believe many geologists have covered this information, and it should be easily findable at any reputable academic library.

As opposed to exorheic, it seems reasonable to assume that any endorheic lake would accumulate salt over the course of time due to evaporation exceeding inflow of water carrying even a small amount of salt. Apart from mining, salt is produced by evaporation in "ponds" as personally witnessed in Libya. There's no need for a biblical flood, proximity to an ocean or other "scientific" discourse to explain salinity. Take a pan of brackish water, place it in the sun, give it time, and you'll end up with a "salt pan." Follow the "KISS" principle: https://nhmu.utah.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/Great%20Salt%20Lak...

"Why is the Great Salt Lake salty?
Much of the salt now contained in the Great Salt Lake was originally in the water of Lake
Bonneville. Even though Lake Bonneville was fairly fresh, it contained salt that
concentrated as its water evaporated. A small amount of dissolved salts, leached from
the soil and rocks, is deposited in Great SaltLake every year by rivers that flow into the
lake. About two million tons of dissolved salts enter the lake each year by this means."

Mono Lake has a similar geologic origin, does the flood thesis cover that as well?

The whole Great Basin was once under Seawater as an extension of the Gulf of Ca. The only reason Walker Lake and Lake Tahoe are more fresh water is because they receive such an abundance of fresh water from the Sierra Nevada mountains that have less salts and were not covered by seawater during this era.

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