Playa lakes are among the flattest landforms in the world. They form under arid conditions in interior basins
with no outlet to the sea. During wetter climatic conditions, the playa lake basins of the Basin-and-Range
province were filled with perennial lakes.
Soda Lake lies at the terminus of the
Mojave River. In
wet years, the playa may contain standing water and
flooding has occurred near the
drier times, water lies very near the surface in parts
of the playa. Capillary action draws the water upward where it evaporates, leaving a puffy “efflorescent” crust
of evaporite minerals such as sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate.
At least twice, a long-lived lake (Lake Mojave I and II) existed in the region of Soda and Silver Lake playas,
from about 18,000 to 16,000 years ago and from 13,700 to 11,400 years ago. The second lake developed when
was incised and a large lake near
(Lake Manix) was drained.
Lake Mojave dried out by about 8,700 years ago. Although short-lived, lakes have periodically existed in the
basin. Desiccated lakes can be major sources of eolian sediments, as the man-made desiccation of Owens Lake
has shown recently. Thus, the complex history of Soda Lake is interwoven with the history of the dune fields
at its southern margin.
Playa/Dry Lake Formation
A playa is a dry, vegetation-free, flat area at the lowest part of an undrained desert basin. It is a location where ephemeral lakes form during ...
Mojave Preserve Geology
The geology of Mojave National Preserve is very complex and diverse due to igneous and metamorphic activity and structural deformations associated ...
Zzyzx - Soda Springs
Near the mouth of the Mojave River, where the intermittant waters seep into Soda Lake, a mineral spring wells up near a ...
Lake Mojave Period
Claims have been made for archeological assemblages dating to times earlier than the Lake Mojave period, but all are ...
Dry Lakes in the Mojave
In desert basins, where rivers merge but do not drain, a dry lake bed or playa may form. Playas usually appear ...
Sunrise at Soda Lake
Looking southeast across Soda Lake
Evaporite crust of Soda Lake