Water salinity measures salt content in parts per thousand. Seawater has an average salinity of 3.5%. The salinity of water bodies is dependent on various factors, including environmental conditions, seasons, and locations. Ethiopia's Gaet'ale Pond is one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth. Some of the other saltiest bodies of water are listed below.
15. Lake Natron
Lake Natron lies on the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania. The erratic conditions of the semi-arid region surrounding Lake Natron have shrunk the lake and increased its salinity levels. Alkali salt crust has gradually formed at the base of the lake, which threatens aquatic life as it destroys the breeding grounds of flamingos and tilapia.
14. Red Sea
The Red Sea is located between Africa and Asia, and is one of saltiest water bodies due to the high rate of evaporation and low precipitation in the area. The salinity level ranges between 36% and 41% in the southern and northern regions, respectively. The lack of significant rivers flowing into the Red Sea, as well as limited connectivity to the Indian Ocean, further increases its salinity.
13. Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is the source of intermediate water mass in the Atlantic Ocean. A higher rate of evaporation has been reported in the Mediterranean Sea, leading to an increase in its salinity. Since the sea is enclosed in a land mass, the damming of rivers draining into the sea is also increasing the alkane levels of the sea water.
12. Salton Sea
The Salton Sea is a shallow endorheic rift lake located in the lowest elevations of the Salton sink of the Colorado Desert in the U.S. state of California. Its salinity measures 56 grams per liter, and the concentration has been increasingly by 3% annually. The Salton Sea has no outlets and the Colorado River, which is its main tributary, deposits minerals into the waters. Due to evaporation, salt and mineral deposits increase the sea's salinity, which is now a threat to its aquatic life.
11. Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a large shallow saline soda lake in the Mono Basin in the U.S. state of California. The lake's major tributaries pass through Lundy Canyon, which contribute to high mineral deposits in the water. Since the lake has no outlets, high salt level accumulate making the lake water alkaline. Dissolved salts also remain in the lake, increasing the salt concentration and pH levels.
10. Little Manitou Lake
Little Manitou Lake is a small saltwater lake in Saskatoon, Canada. The lake is fed by underground springs with a high mineral content of magnesium, sodium and potassium salts. The water contains a salt content of 180 g/L, giving it a density of about 200 ppt, thus allowing bathers to float easily.
9. Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake is located in the U.S. state Utah and is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. It is the eighth largest terminal lake in the world and is fed by the Jordan Rivers, Weber River, and Bear River, which deposit more than one million tons of minerals each year. Since it has no other outlet besides evaporation, the lake has a high salinity of 27%. The Great Salt Lake's mineral content has increased over the years, which has increased the water's pH levels.
8. Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia is a terminal salt water lake located at the border of Turkey and Iran. It is the largest endorheic lake in the Middle East, and among the largest salty bodies of water in the world. The lake has shrunk in size by approximately 10% following the damming of the lake’s major tributaries and the pumping of water from sea basin. As a result of declining water levels, the lake's salinity has increased to 28%, and has supported the growth of Dunaliella Salina, turning the water blood red in color.
7. Dead Sea
The Dead Sea (Sea of Salt) is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world, with a depth of 997 ft. Its surface and shores have an elevation of 1,407 ft below sea level, which is the Earth’s lowest elevation point on land. The sea has a salinity of 34.2%, making it 9.6 times more salty than ocean water. The harsh environment around the Dead Sea is caused by the rain shadow effect of the Judean Mountains, which contributes to the high salinity of the sea.
6. Lake Assal
Lake Assal (Honey Lake) is located in Djibouti, above the Great Rift Valley. It is the second lowest point of elevation on Earth after the Dead Sea, and is composed of a crystallized salt surface and a high saline brine area. Since there are no outlets from the lake, the high rate of evaporation makes the salinity level 10 times greater than seawater. Lake Assal is the second saltiest lake and the world's largest salt reserve.
The Garabogazkol is an inundated depression forming a lagoon of the Caspian Sea in northwest Turkmenistan. The salinity level at the Garabogazkol lagoon is approximated at 35%, which is ten times more saline than average ocean water. Due to this high salinity level, no marine life exists in the lagoon or in the surrounding environments.
4. Lake Vanda
Lake Vada is located in the ice-free Wright Valley of the Transantarctic Mountains. It is hypersaline and the most saline lake outside of Antarctica. Lake Vada is also meromictic, meaning that the deeper waters do not mix with its shallow waters. The lake forms three distinct layers classified by water temperature: the bottom layer is 73 °F; the middle layer is 45 °F; and the upper layer is 43 °F.
3. Lake Retba
Lake Retba (Lac Rose) is a pink colored lake located in Senegal, and is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by white sand dunes. The lake is hypersaline, with highest salinity during the hot season. The lake's high salt content attracts Dunaliella Salina bacteria, which produces a red pigment to absorb sunlight, hence the pink color of the water.
2. Don Juan Pond
Don Juan Pond is a small and shallow hypersaline lake in the Victorian lands of Antarctica, located at the base of the Transantarctic Mountains. With a salinity of 40%, Don Juan is the second saltiest body of water in the world. Despite the harsh temperatures of Antarctica, which reach lows of -58 degrees Fahrenheit, the calcium chloride waters of the Don Juan rarely freeze. Salt particles lower the freezing point of the water by moving between the water molecules and preventing the formation of ice lattice.
1. Gaet'ale Pond
Gaet'ale Pond is a hypersaline pond situated in the Danakil Depression in Afar, Ethiopia. The pond has neither an inlet nor an outlet stream, which makes it the saltiest waterbody in the world, with a salinity of 43%. According to area residents, Gaet'ale Pond was formed in 2005 after an earthquake exposed the tectonic plate beneath the pond. There is a hot spring beneath the pond, which causes the water to have higher temperatures compared to the surrounding environment.