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Salt pan (geology)

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Salt pan (geology)

Cono de Arita in Salar de Arizaro, Salta (Argentina)

Natural salt pans are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the Sun. They are found in deserts, and should not be confused with salt evaporation ponds.


A salt pan is formed where water pools evaporate. An example of a salt pan would be a lake or a pond that is located in a climate where the rate of water evaporation exceeds the rate of water precipitation, i.e., if it were in a desert. If the water is unable to drain into the ground, it remains on the surface until it evaporates, leaving behind minerals precipitated from the salt ions dissolved in the water. Over thousands of years, the minerals (usually salts) accumulate on the surface. These minerals reflect the Sun's rays and often appear as white areas.

Salt pans can be dangerous. The crust of salt can conceal a quagmire of mud that can engulf a truck. The Qattara Depression in the eastern Sahara desert contains many such traps which served as strategic barriers during World War II.[1]

Devil's Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, U.S


The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is the largest salt pan in the world, and contains between 50% and 70% of the world's lithium reserves.

The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where many land speed records have been set, is a well-known salt pan in the arid regions of the western United States.

The Etosha pan in the Etosha National Park in Namibia is another prominent example of a salt pan.

Devil's Golf Course in Death Valley is the largest salt pan in United States of America.

See also


  1. ^ Jorgensen, C. (2003). Rommel's panzers: Rommel and the Panzer forces of the Blitzkrieg, 1940-1942 (pp. 78–79). St. Paul, MN: MBI.
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