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Seasonal Salt Pans of Lake Eyre, Australia – December 11th, 2011

28.1S 137.2E

December 11th, 2011 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Salt Flats

Australia - December 11th, 2011

Lake Eyre is the lowest point in Australia, at approximately 15 m (49 ft) below sea level, and, on the rare occasions that it fills, it is the largest lake in Australia and 18th largest in the world. It is located in the deserts of central Australia, in northern South Australia.

The Eyre Basin is a large endorheic system surrounding the lakebed, the lowest part of which is filled with the characteristic salt pan caused by the seasonal expansion and subsequent evaporation of the trapped waters. Even in the dry season there is usually some water remaining in Lake Eyre, normally collecting in a number of smaller sub-lakes within its margins.

During the rainy season the rivers from the north-east part of the Lake Eyre basin (in outback (south-west and central) Queensland) flow towards the lake through the Channel Country. The amount of water from the monsoon determines whether water will reach the lake and if it does, how deep the lake will get.

In recent years, the 2009 Lake Eyre flood peaked at 1.5 m (5 ft) deep in late May which is a quarter of its maximum recorded depth of 6 m (20 ft). In 2010, the high rainfall in summer sent flood water into the Diamantina, Georgina and Cooper Creek catchments of the Lake Eyre basin, with the Cooper Creek reaching the lake for the first time since 1990. In 2011, heavy rain in early March filled the southern end of the lake, with the north of the usually-dry salt pan about 75 per cent covered with water continuing to inflow from local creeks.

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