Dry Lake Landforms

Dry lake Landform

Dry Lake Landforms Have 2 Main Characteristics:

  1. A lake bed
  2. Remains dry during most of the year

Example of a Dry Lake Landform:

Salar de Uyuni, Andes Mountains, Bolivia
The dry lake picture is an example of a dried up landform.

What is a Dry Lake Landform?

A dry lake is a lake bed with a surface of dry mud or salt and remains dry for most of the year.
A dry lake that is covered with a layer of salt is often called a salt flat.

How are Dry Lakes Formed?

A lake is formed from the water of rain, runoff, rivers and/or streams. When a change in climate occurs and there is a lack of sufficient rainfall, the rivers and streams that feed the lake dry up and the lake evaporates.

During the wet season, when there is sufficient rainfall, part or all of the dry lake may be flooded with from one to several inches of water each year. Over thousands of years this can form a very flat surface on the lake bed.

How Large is a Dry Lake?

Many dry lakes are small, sometimes less than one mile in diameter. The largest can have several thousand square miles of lake bed.

Where Can a Dry Lake Be Found?

Thousands of smaller dry lakes can be found in the high plains of Texas and eastern New Mexico. Larger dry lakes also exist in other regions of the western US and on other continents.

Famous Dry Lakes

• Salar de Uyuni, Andes Mountains, Bolivia
• Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, California, USA
• Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA
• Edwards Airforce Base, California, USA

The largest salt flat in the world is Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia. It covers over 4000 square miles at an elevation of almost 12,000 feet in the Andes Mountains. An extremely flat surface and large size make it an excellent target for calibrating the altimeters of satellites in orbit.

A very large quantity of lithium lies under the surface, a valuable mineral needed for making lithium batteries for computers and cellphones. Racetrack Playa is a dry lake in Death Valley, California that is famous for having large stones that seem to move across the surface of the lake bed, leaving tracks behind them.

For a long time, this mystery remained unexplained. However recently, time lapse photography has discovered that thin sheets of ice in the winter, as they begin to melt and float above the surface, can move the rocks forward pushed by the wind. The Bonneville Salt Flats is the largest salt flat in northwestern Utah and is famous as a location for setting many land speed records.

Visitors are also allowed to drive on the lake bed. Edward Airforce base in southern California is a well known facility for testing military and research aircraft. In 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier for the first time at Edwards in the Bell X-1.

Dry Lake definition:

A lake bed that is dry most of the year and has a surface of mud or a layer of salt.

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