Chapter

A History of the Salton Sink

Michael A. Patten, Guy McCaskie and Philip Unitt

in Birds of the Salton Sea

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780520235939
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929449 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520235939.003.0001
A History of the Salton Sink

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The Salton Sink lies between the southern Coachella Valley and the northern Mexicali Valley. The long history of the Salton Trough ranges from its connection with the Gulf of California during the Tertiary Period to the maximum spread of Lake Cahuilla beginning some 40,000 years ago. Heavy deposits of silt from the Colorado River eventually accumulated along the southern edge of Gravel Mesa to form a barrier between the former head of the gulf and the current one. The enclosed sea subsequently dried up, but reminders of the saline environment in the form of “oyster-shells and other forms of marine life” are strewn across the base of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains at an elevation of about 100m. The depression resulting from the desiccation of this “trapped” sea was further honed by the uplifting of the surrounding mountains and became a deep basin generally called the Salton Trough.

Keywords: Salton Sink; Coachella Valley; Mexicali Valley; Salton Trough; Gravel Mesa

Chapter.  2880 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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