Sedimentologic and biostratigraphic evidence is used to develop a geochemical model for Great Salt Lake, Utah, extending back some 30,000 yrs. B.P. Hydrologie conditions as defined by the water budget equation are characterized by a lake initially at a low, saline stage, rising by about 17,000 yrs. B.P. to fresh water basin-full conditions (Bonneville level) and then, after about 15,000 yrs. B.P., dropping rapidly to a saline stage again, as exemplified by the present situation. Inflow composition has changed through time in response to the hydrologie history. During fresh-water periods high discharge inflow is dominated by calcium bicarbonate-type river waters; during saline stages, low discharge, NaCl-rich hydrothermal springs are significant solute sources. This evolution in lake composition to NaCl domination is illustrated by the massive mirabilite deposition, free of halite, following the rapid drawdown until about 8,000 years ago, while historic droughts have yielded principally halite. Hydrologic history can be combined with inferred inflow composition to derive concentration curves with time for each major solute in the lake. Calcium concentrations before the drawdown were controlled by calcite solubility, and afterwards by aragonite. Significant amounts of solutes are removed from the lake by diffusion into the sediments. Na+, Cl- and SO42- are also involved in salt precipitation. By including pore fluid data, a surprisingly good fit has been obtained between solute input over the time period considered and the amounts actually found in lake brines, pore fluids, salt beds and sediments. Excess amounts are present for calcium, carbonate and silica, indicating detrital input. ?? 1985.
Additional publication details
Geochemistry of great Salt Lake, Utah II: Pleistocene-Holocene evolution