Owens Lake is an alkaline salt lake in a closed basin in southeast California. It is normally nearly dry, but in early 1969, an abnormal runoff from the Sierra Nevada flooded it to a maximum depth of 2??4 m. By late summer of 1971, the lake was again nearly dry and the dissolved salts recrystallized. Changes in the chemistry, pH, and deuterium content were monitored during desiccation. During flooding, salts (mostly trona, halite, and burkeite) dissolved slowly from the lake floor. Their concentration in the lake waters increased as evaporation removed water and salts again crystallized, but winter temperatures caused precipitation of some salts and the following summer warming caused their solution, resulting in seasonal variations in the concentration patterns of some ions. The pH values (9??4-10??4) changed with time but showed no detectable diurnal pattern. The deuterium concentration increased during evaporation and appeared to be in equilibrium with vapor leaving the lake according to the Rayleigh equation. The effective ??(D/H in liquid/D/H in vapor) decreased as salinity increased; the earliest measured value was 1??069 [as total dissolved solids (TDS) of lake waters changed from 136,200 to 250,400 mg/1]and the last value (calc.) was 1??025 (as TDS changed from 450,000 to 470,300 mg/1). Deuterium exchange with the atmosphere was apparently small except during late desiccation stages when the isotopic contrast became great. Eventually, atmospheric exchange, combined with decreasing ?? and lake size and increasing salinity, stopped further deuterium concentration in the lake. The maximum contrast between atmospheric vapor and lake deuterium contents was about 110%. ?? 1976.
Additional publication details
Studies of quaternary saline lakes-II. Isotopic and compositional changes during desiccation of the brines in Owens Lake, California, 1969-1971