Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is a saline lake, occupying the lowest elevations of the Salton Sink, part of the larger Colorado Desert in Southern California, USA, north of the Imperial Valley. The salinity of the lake is about 44,000 mg/L, greater than ocean water but less than the Great Salt Lake; the salinity is increasing by about 1% annually.[1] The lake covers a surface area of approximately 376 square miles (974 km²), the largest in California. While it varies in dimensions and area with changes in agricultural runoff and rain, it averages 15 by 35 miles (24 by 56 km), with a maximum depth of 51 feet (15.5 m), giving a total volume of about 7.5 million acre-feet (9.3 km³). Sea inflow averages 1.36 million acre-feet per year (53.2 m³/s).

The Salton Sea falls within both Riverside County and Imperial County. Like Death Valley, it is located below sea level, with the current surface of the Salton Sea at about 220 ft (65 m) below sea level. The deepest area of the sea is 5 feet (1.5m) higher than the lowest point of Death Valley. The sea is fed by the New, Whitewater, and Alamo rivers, as well as a number of minor agricultural drainage systems and creeks.