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Lake Profile

Great Salt Lake

General Information

Country United States of America
Latitude 41° 10' 0" (41.1667)
Longitude -112° 30' 0" (-112.5000)
State Utah

Physical Characteristics

Description The lake's surface area fluctuates between 2,331 and 6,216 square kilometers. It contains a range of salinities from 5-27%.
Volume 19.00 km3
Surface Area 3,750.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 4.0 m
Maximum depth: 10.0 m
Origin Tectonic
Type Saline


Economic Value Recreation estimated $7 million/year
Brine shrimp cyst harvesting estimated $27 million/year
Mineral extraction-salts estimated $240 million/year
Major Cities Salt Lake City, Ogden

Watershed Management

Issues Threats include the development of southern and eastern shore areas for industrial, urban, agricultural, recreational and tourism use. There are plans for a highway which would bisect many key lake wetlands. The lake has also been proposed as a possible dumping site for soils contaminated with arsenic and lead from a Superfund site. Diking for salt development and lake level controls is also a problem in the lake basin.
Other Issues Lake Levels (water quantity)
Nutrient pollution
Watershed habitat alteration
Monitoring Quaterly monitoring for chemical parameters by the Utah Division of Water Quality.
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality
Biological Resources and Habitats

Biodiversity Conservation

Description Great Salt Lake supports large numbers of migrating Wilson's phalaropes. No accurate counts exist for most shorebirds using the lake, but studies suggest that high numbers, perhaps in the millions, use the lake for breeding and migration. Hundreds of thousands of Eared Grebes stage for migration on the lake, fattening on the abundant brine shrimp. One of the world's largest number of White-faced Ibis nest in the lake's eastern marshes.
Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
WWF Global 200
WWF Freshwater Eco-Region - Bonneville
WWF Conservation Status Priority II
Species of Concern


Friends of Great Salt Lake



Anthropogenic eutrophication of an urban embayment of the Great Salt Lake, Utah
Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Brine Shrimp and Ecology of the Great Salt Lake
Friends of Great Salt Lake
ILEC Database
USGS Fact Sheet on Great Salt Lake


4/27/2003 - Flamingo is getting sympathy in Utah
12/1/2002 - Studies show Great Salt Lake could rebound in 2006
11/14/2000 - Mountain-front reservoirs control cycles of Great Salt Lake

Additional Data Sources

Abell, R. and D. Olson, E. Dinerstein, P. Hurley et al. 2000. Freshwater ecoregions of North America. Island Press. Washington, D.C.
Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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