Behrens Trench

June 06, 2014


Photographer: Brent Watson
Summary Authors: Brent Watson; Jackie Phillips

Behrens Trench is a 21 mi (33.8 km) underwater canal located under the Great Salt Lake. The trench transports concentrated brine from the lake’s west ponds to its east ponds. This brine is dense and remains below the lighter water of the lake. The large, shallow ponds on the west side concentrate the brine from the saltier north arm through evaporation. Concentrated brine is then carried through the trench to the east side of the lake where salt, potash and other minerals are extracted. About four days is needed to make the complete trip during which there's less than 10 percent mixing between the lake water and brine.

This photograph shows the start of the canal leaving the west evaporation ponds and flowing into and under the Great Salt Lake. Salt tolerant bacteria and algae thrive in the north arm of the lake and give the water a brown color. Mineral extraction is the largest industry associated with the Great Salt Lake. Photo taken on November 15, 2008.

Photo details: Camera Model: NIKON D80; Focal Length: 35.0mm (35mm equivalent: 52mm); Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250); ISO equiv: 100; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS4 Windows.