How is the salinity of Great Salt Lake measured?

The salinity of Great Salt Lake is measured by taking specific gravity and temperature measurements and comparing them to standardized values reported in a table. Specific gravity is measured in the field by testing a water sample with a device very similar to a battery or antifreeze tester.

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What is the difference between "mountain", "hill", and "peak"; "lake" and "pond"; or "river" and "creek?"

There are no official definitions for generic terms as applied to geographic features. Such definitions as exist derive from the particular needs and applications of organizations using them. The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database utilizes 63 broad categories of feature types originally defined solely to facilitate retrieval of...

Where can I find information about my local drinking water supply?

The best way to learn about your local drinking water quality is to read the annual drinking water quality report/consumer confidence report that water suppliers now send out by July 1 of each year. The reports are often sent out with water bills, but they may be sent separately. The reports tell where drinking water comes from, what contaminants...

Is saline water used for anything?

In the U.S., about 13 percent of all water used is saline water . But saline water can only be used for certain purposes. The main use is for thermoelectric power-plant cooling. About 5 percent of water used for industrial purposes is saline, and about 53 percent of all water used for mining purposes is saline. Saline water can be desalinated for...

Does the use of pesticides affect our Nation's water quality?

Pesticide use in the United States has increased because not only must we supply our exploding population with food, but crops and food are also grown for export to other countries. The United States has become the largest producer of food products in the world, partly owing to our use of modern chemicals (pesticides) to control the insects, weeds...

What can be causing our drinking water to have a reddish color?

Your water might be affected by iron, which is a commonly-occurring constituent of drinking water. Iron tends to add a rusty, reddish-brown (or sometimes yellow) color to water. If the color is more black than red, your water might contain a combination of iron and manganese. Both of these metals can cause staining of plumbing fixtures or laundry...

Where can I find detailed sampling methods for surface water and groundwater?

USGS protocols for the collection of groundwater and surface-water samples have been published in the report National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data. The National Field Manual was published in chapters; copies of each chapter are available online.

Why are some lakes full of algae and thick plants?

Plants naturally grow in and around lakes, but sometimes lakes and ponds can get an overgrowth of plants, algae, or bacteria. In many cases, humans are responsible. Chemicals that are used on lawns and in agriculture (like nitrogen and potassium) wash into our water systems. Once there, plants and algae have a feast on this “food”. Sometimes...
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Date published: December 29, 2015

USGS and Utah Department of Natural Resources Announce New Record Low Elevation at Great Salt Lake's North Arm

The north arm of the Great Salt Lake (GSL) has reached a new historic low. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL), the lake's water level reached an elevation of 4,191.6 feet last month, one foot lower than the previous record.

Date published: January 16, 2007

New maps change thinking about Great Salt Lake

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has recently released the second of two maps defining the bottom surface of Great Salt Lake, Utah. These mapping efforts were the first detailed, systematic surveys of the lake.

Date published: June 22, 2004

Water Quality in the Great Salt Lake Region Affected by Land Use

Water samples collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in areas surrounding the Great Salt Lake in parts of Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming generally meet existing guidelines for drinking water and the protection of aquatic life, although water quality in some specific areas have elevated concentrations of pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nutrients, chloride, and elements 

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USGS scientists check breach on glass-calm Great Salt Lake in surreal light.
December 19, 2017

Great Salt Lake, USGS boat at work

USGS scientists check breach on glass-calm Great Salt Lake in surreal light.

Comparison of lake levels from Landsat 5 images of Great Salt Lake in 1985 and 2010.
February 20, 2017

Great Salt Lake 1985 & 2010

Comparison of lake levels in Great Salt Lake using Landsat 5 images taken in 1985 and again 2010.

Photo of USGS research boat conducting science on the Great Salt Lake.
December 31, 2016

USGS research boat conducting science on the Great Salt Lake.

USGS scientist Robert Baskin takes a boat out on the Great Salt Lake to conduct research. 

Baskin is being awarded with a 2016 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. Gov. Gary R. Herbert will present awards to 11 individuals and one company at the 30th anniversary awards dinner on January 18, 2017. Baskin is best known for his innovative research on Great Salt

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December 1, 2016

New Breach Allows Flow on the Great Salt Lake

The new Great Salt Lake breach was opened on Dec. 1 by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. This created a new opening between the north and the south arm of the lake, allowing water to flow between the two sides. This time-lapse video shows the breach opening, which took about two hours. Before the new breach was opened, the north arm of the Great Salt Lake was at an

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False-color-composite satellite image of Great Salt Lake, Utah, 2016
September 28, 2016

False-color-composite satellite image of Great Salt Lake, Sept 2016

This is a false-color-composite satellite image of Great Salt Lake, Utah, Sept 2016. Vegetation appears red in image.

Looking down and across the Great Salt Lake
November 23, 2015

Great Salt Lake

Looking down and across the Great Salt Lake.

Image: Great Salt Lake Breach at Lakeside, Utah
November 9, 2015

Great Salt Lake Breach at Lakeside, Utah

A gage to measure lake water levels stands dry in the lake bed of the Great Salt Lake. For the first time since it was opened in 1984, water has stopped flowing through the Great Salt Lake causeway breach, an area that allows water to travel between the southern and northern parts of the lake.

USGS scientist on Great Salt Lake beach
September 28, 2015

Great Salt Lake beach

USGS scientist on Great Salt Lake beach 

Great Salt Lake, declining water level
September 28, 2015

Great Salt Lake, declining water level

Great Salt Lake, declining water level