Great Salt Lake, a large saline lake in northwestern Utah. It lies near Salt Lake City between the Wasatch Range and the Great Salt Lake Desert and receives the waters of the Bear, Jordan, and Weber rivers. The lake has no outlet, but it loses water through evaporation.
The area of the Great Salt Lake varies from year to year, fluctuating mainly with the amount of precipitation in the region and the discharge of the rivers. The salt content of the lake also varies, increasing with a decline in the volume of water. Since the 1960's the lake's area has fluctuated from about 1,000 to 1,700 square miles (2,600 to 4,400 km2). With a salinity that has ranged up to seven times that of ocean water, the lake is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. Its depth averages about 15 feet (4.5 m).
The Great Salt Lake is a remnant of a huge prehistoric glacial lake called Lake Bonneville. As the climate became hotter and drier, the glacial lake shrank, and the salt content increased as water evaporated. There is virtually no animal life except brine shrimp.
The Great Salt Lake was discovered during the winter of 1824–25 by Jim Bridger and Etienne Provost, independently of one another. The Mormons founded Salt Lake City in 1847 near its southeastern shore. Table salt and other minerals are extracted from the lake's waters. A railway causeway crosses the lake.