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Home > Why Is the Ocean Salty and Rivers Are Not? > Oceans in Balance > Not Only Oceans Are Salty

Not Only Oceans Are Salty

We tend to think about oceans when we talk about salt water, but there are other places with salt water, too. In Canada, these include saltwater lakes and saltwater wetlands.

A large salt plain.

A salt plain near Grosbeak Lake in Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta.

Salt Plains in the Northern Prairies

The salt plains in Wood Buffalo National Park, which extends into Alberta and the Northwest Territories, are one of Canada's more remarkable features.

The salt plains are formed from salt that was left behind about 390 million years ago, when a prehistoric saltwater sea evaporated. That was long before dinosaurs lived on Earth.

Today, underground water dissolves the salt. The water is forced to the surface because the bedrock cannot absorb it. On the surface, the water evaporates and the salt is left behind. During dry periods, interesting salt mounds form where saltwater springs bubble up.

A World Heritage Site

An aerial view of a salt plain with a meandering river.

A salt plain in Wood Buffalo National Park.

Covering an area of almost 45 000 square kilometres, Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada's largest national park and one of the largest in the world. It protects many natural and cultural resources, including the 370 square kilometres of salt plains.

The salt plains are unique in Canada. They are one of the reasons why Wood Buffalo National Park was designated a World Heritage Site.

The lake shoreline covered with foam and salt.

A mixture of foam and salt on the shore of Little Manitou Lake, Saskatchewan.

A Lake Saltier Than the Ocean

The water in Little Manitou Lake, Saskatchewan, is five times saltier than the ocean. As water evaporates from the lake, it leaves salt behind. When the salt becomes too concentrated in the water, the extra salt settles at the bottom of the lake.

This lake is a closed system, which means that there is no fresh water running into it. Rain and snow are the only way that new water enters the lake.

Oceans in Balance
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