ENVIRONMENT

Water may be the solution to saving the salt flats

Feb 23, 2024, 7:00 PM

A lone American flag waves in the morning breeze Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002, at the Bonneville Salt F...

A lone American flag waves in the morning breeze Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002, at the Bonneville Salt Flats along Interstate 80 on the way to Wendover, Utah. With the Bonneville Salt Flats eroding, newly discovered research may have found a way to save them. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — With the Bonneville Salt Flats eroding, newly discovered research may have found a way to save them.

The University of Utah and Utah Geological Survey worked together on this new study. Through the study, they found that the flats were formed thousands of years after Lake Bonneville dried up.

During the study, researchers looked at core samples from the Salt Flats. From this, they discovered there were no sediments from Lake Bonneville under the salt. This means the lake dried up and blew away well before the flats were formed.

Former University of Utah student Jeremiah Bernau said their biggest surprise was learning it was the wet weather after the lake dried up that led to the flats forming.

“That really, to me, highlights the importance of having enough water coming into the system to support it,” he said.

Utah geology professor Brenda Bowen said the study also reveals that wet weather is better for salt formation at the flats. She said redirecting water flow back into the salt flats is a likely way to help reduce erosion and promote salt growth.

“I think we sort of expected to see the salt forming during the more arid periods,” she said. “It looks like it actually required a wetter period to bring in all that water and concentrate all the salt. But then still with enough evaporation to get that salt to grow from the water.”

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Water may be the solution to saving the salt flats