The Salton Sea

November 25, 2009


Photographer: Wendy Van Norden
Summary Author: Wendy Van Norden

The Salton Sea in southern California is a shallow saline lake occupying the Salton Sink, which is about 226 ft (69 m) below sea level. It’s located on the southernmost section of the San Andreas Fault, where it meets with the Pacific Plate, resulting in a pull-apart basin. The crust is so thin here that hot springs and volcanism are quite common. The Salton Sink has contained at least three lakes in the last two millennia. The current lake began in 1905 when a levee on an irrigation canal to the Colorado River broke and diverted water from the desert into the Sink. Although the Salton Sea is polluted from agricultural runoff, it does support large bird populations. A raft of while pelicans can be seen in the distance to the right of the picture. Note the obsidian boulder in the foreground.  This glass-like rock is created when hot lava is quickly cooled in water. Photo taken on March 3, 2009 near Brawley, California.

Salton Sea Coordinates: 33.3334 N, 115.8342 W