Saline lakes are widely distributed throughout the western half of the North American continent where six regions can be distinguished including the Great Plains, the North West, the Great Basin, the Mid Continental Region, the Southwest Region, and the Chihuahuan region of North Mexico. One of the best studied is the Great Plains or Prairie Pothole Region. This area extends from the Dakotas and Western Minnesota into Southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. No other area in the world has the concentration or diversity of saline lake environments seen here. Estimates of saline lake numbers range from 1 to greater than 10 million and density can be as high as 120 lakes per km2. Every water chemistry is represented in this region. In fact, because of this, over 40 species of endogenic precipitates have been identified in lake sediments. Types of lakes range from large, ephemeral salt pans (e.g., Muskiki Lake, Saskatchewan) to deep permanent lakes (e.g., Deadmoose Lake Saskatchewan where some 'holes' are >60 meters deep).
The Great Basin region, which includes all of Nevada, the western half of Utah, southeastern
Oregon and a large area of southeastern California, contains some of the most well known lakes in North America. These include Mono, Pyramid, Walker, and Great Salt Lakes as well as the Salton Sea (Figure 5).
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