Great Salt Lake, and precursors, Utah: The last 30,000 years

Ronald J. Spencer, M. J. Baedecker, H. P. Eugster, R. M. Forester, M. B. Goldhaber, B. F. Jones, K. Kelts, J. Mckenzie, D. B. Madsen, S. L. Rettig, M. Rubin, C. J. Bowser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Sediment cores up to 6.5 m in length from the South Arm of Great Salt Lake, Utah, have been correlated. Radiocarbon ages and volcanic tephra layers indicate a record of greater than 30,000 years. A variety of approaches have been employed to collect data used in stratigraphic correlation and lake elevation interpretation; these include acoustic stratigraphy, sedimentologic analyses, mineralogy, geochemistry (major element, C, O and S isotopes, and organics), paleontology and pollen. The results indicate that prior to 32,000 year B.P. an ephemeral saline lake-playa system was present in the basin. The perennial lake, which has occupied the basin since this time, rose in a series of three major steps; the freshest water conditions and presumably highest altitude was reached at about 17,000 year B.P. The lake remained fresh for a brief period, followed by a rapid increase in salinity and sharp lowering in elevation to levels below that of the present Great Salt Lake. The lake remained at low elevations, and divided at times into a north and south Basin, until about 8,000 year B.P. Since that time, with the exception of two short rises to about 1290 m, the lake level has remained near the present elevation of 1280 m.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages14
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1984

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Great Salt Lake, and precursors, Utah: The last 30,000 years'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this