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Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake is a endorheic saline lake in northern Utah, much saltierier than the ocean. It is the remnant of the prehistoric glacial Lake Bonneville in the Great Basin. Salt Lake City and its suburbs are on the eastern shore of the lake. The Bear and Weber Rivers flow into the lake from the adjacent Wasatch and Uinta Mountains, and the Jordan River flows into the Great Salt Lake from Utah Lake. Railroad tracks run across the lake; the solid causeway supporting them divides the lake in half. As all three rivers feeding the lake flow into the southern half, the northern half of the lake is now noticeably saltier than the south half.

The only animals that live in the lake are tiny brine shrimp, the eggs of which are harvested in quantity. They hatch easily and are fed to prawns in Asia and also were sold as a novelty as "Sea Monkeys."

Many water birds feed on the brine shrimp and insects in the wetlands near the lake. The water level is variable, rising dramatically in wet years but also lowered greatly by reductions in flow into the lake as water is diverted for agricultural and urban uses. There is a problem with pollution of the lake by industrial and urban effluent.

The lake is difficult to approach, being fringed by mud flats, but from time to time a resort called Saltair has operated on the southern shore of the lake. Rising and lowering water levels have affected Saltair, and it has burned twice.

Shallow artificial ponds at the edge of the lake are used to produce salt for commercial sale.

Great Salt Lake is the location for Robert Smithson's piece of land art, Spiral Jetty (1970).