Bonneville Lake History  

This site is part of a project funded by an NSF grant to Dr. Paul Link of Idaho State University and Dr. Shuhab Khan of University of Houston


The history of Lake Bonneville is also the history of the Great Salt Lake. The modern lake is a small residual of Bonneville, a pleistocene lake that at its peak covered 52,000 sq km (32,000 sq mi) in what is now northwestern Utah and Southern Idaho. Several distinct stages have been identified at which lake levels remained constant for periods of one thousand years or more; these are called Stansbury, Bonneville, Provo, and Gilbert. The highest stage, Bonneville, was cut short by a massive flooding event through the Red Rock pass area near Zenda, Idaho, which released about five thousand cubic kilometers of water - the second largest flood in the geologic history of the world.




The map shows all of the lake stages from the past 23,000 years. The levels, from lightest to darkest, are Bonneville, Provo, Stansbury, Gilbert, and the contemporary Great Salt Lake. The chart below shows the changes in lake levels over time.

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