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.


People thought the Great Salt Lake may be a remnant of the mineralized Flood waters that covered the whole earth? Yes it is a fact. It is a remnant of that Flood. Most lakes had water flowing into and out of them so the water became fresh. But the Salt Lake does not have any outlet, so I remained heavily mineralized as the waters evaporated and concentrated the marine minerals.

Other lakes with no inlet dried up in all deserts and left gypsum, salt and other minerals as evaporates, along with loose sand.

Thanks for the comment! I was trying to figure out why some lakes are fresh and some are salty if a flood covered the whole area, and it seems like you've answered that question for me.

Very interesting theory. I wonder if the land around the lake was once lower and closer to the sea. It could have been flooded often by the sea, thus leaving the salt behind? Reminds me of the Dead Sea. Are the salt levels rising because there is no outlet. If not, where is the salt going?

Geologists say that before 65 million years ago, the whole area was submerged under several hundred feet of water. This body of water, called the Western Interior Seaway, extended all the way from the Hudson Bay in the North and Canada to the south, and cut the North American continent in half. When this waterway receded, it must have left behind a large amount of salts. It's possible that the salts that are dissolved in the Great Salt Lake originate from these salts that were laid down 65+ million years, I suppose. The problem with is hypothesis is that 65 million years is a long time, and over that time, additional sediments of sufficient thickness should have covered the original salt beds that were laid down so that they couldn't really be redissolved into the Great Salt Lake when it formed much later.

Yeah, the salt levels are rising because there's no outlet. If the Great Salt Lake had an outlet, it would be carrying not just water with it, but the dissolved salts also out of the lake.

I found your article implying the Great Salt Lake has an ocean origin intriguing but unconvincing. The primary reason for this is something you should understand-time. Estimates for when the GSL formed range from 5300 to 6500 years ago and salts have been carried into the lake all these centuries so comparing the salt content of the Jordan and other tributaries to that in the lake is superfluous unless you use time, volume and cumulative salt loading. Also, there is Seville lake, another remnant of Lake Bonneville, nearby which has only about 86,000 ppm of salt but is also an endorheic lake but drains a minute area and, thus, has a much lower salinity. If the ocean was the source of the salts, I would expect this remnant to be closer to the GSL in salt content. Finally, there is the issue of the means by which ocean waters could penetrate into the interior of the North American continent and I don't consider Noah's flood a valid scientific argument.


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