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Image Caption: Great Salt Lake, Utah
The largest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere, The Great Salt Lake, was 20 times the size of the present lake at the end of the last Ice Age. Ancient Lake Bonneville covered portions of three states, Utah, Nevada, and Idaho, and drained via the present day Snake and Columbia Rivers into the Pacific Ocean. As seen in the east-looking view, today's Great Salt Lake is bounded to the east by the rugged Wasatch Range (upper portion of the image). To the west, is the Great Salt Lake Desert (bottom center of the image) once the lake bottom of the former Lake Bonneville. The Great Salt Lake is divided by an east to west railroad causeway. The saltier, purple-looking north part of the lake has no river inlet. The deeper, less salty, blue-looking south part of the lake is fed by fresh water from three rivers. The lake remains salty because it has no river outlet, and loses water only by evaporation. The depth and size of the Great Salt Lake varies from year to year depending on climatic conditions in the region. Table salt, potassium sulfate and other minerals are commonly extracted from the lake. Salt Lake City is discernible in the upper right portion of the image.