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:

  • subsaline: 0.5–3 (0.05-0.3%)
  • hyposaline: 3–20‰ (0.3-2%)
  • mesosaline: 20–50‰ (2-5%)
  • hypersaline: greater than 50‰ (5%)[1]


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 will also lead to a unique halophilic flora and fauna in the lake in question; sometimes, in fact, the result may be an absence or near absence of life near the salt lake.[citation needed]

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.
Lake Elton, Russia
Mono Lake, United States
Salt transport by a camel train on Lake Karum in Ethiopia.

Some of the last 18 salt lakes in this list are also partly fresh and/or brackish water. Like a body of water can have "sea" in its name and technically be a salt lake (for instance, the Salton Sea really being a salt lake), some of the last 18 listed salt lakes are playas, basins or ponds. This might even be the same way for the original 32 salt lakes that were listed here until April 6, 2020. Civilization tends to loosely categorize many of earth's bodies of water.[citation needed]

117,000,000 lakes scatter the earth, and together they only hold about seventeen thousandths or less of all water on earth, making salt lakes more interesting and special.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  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.

External links[edit]

Media related to Salt lakes at Wikimedia Commons