Talk:Salt pan (geology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Geology (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon Salt pan (geology) is part of WikiProject Geology, an attempt at creating a standardized, informative, comprehensive and easy-to-use geology resource. If you would like to participate, you can choose to edit this article, or visit the project page for more information.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.

Intended merge[edit]

Note that I intend merging salt pan and playa (by doing a proper history-merge) under the name salt pan. Playa's content is rather better; the content of both pages will naturally be conserved in the new page. There's also some overlap with endorheic, so some information that's better there will also get moved. I've leave this a couple of days - please tell me if you have a problem with this. -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 18:25, 31 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Proposed merge with playa[edit]

  • Support (how embarrasing, my "couple of days" has turned into over a year). However, as salt pan has now turned into a disambig, I'd prefer the final name be playa.-- Finlay McWalter | Talk 14:52, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Support -- Playa's good with me, as long as all the redirects and disambigs point to the right place. :) And don't worry, I've got things on my todo list (and that never made it to the list) over a year old too.... — Catherine\talk 15:43, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Support -- In meteorological circles, Playa is used instead of salt pan more often than not. Generally, it is considered the appropriate term, and would be the one normally searched for. -Pat Carmichael, National Center for Atmospheric Research/

But you should not forget, that there are more names for the same feature: e.g. sabkha in the Middle East or Chott in Northern Africa. They describe coastal plains (coastal sabkha) or isolated inland basins (inland sabkha) with evaporation dominating precipitation Peter Faber/

  • Disagree —Not all playa lakes are salt flats or even salt water. In fact, this source estimates there are as many as 25,000 playas in the southern high plains of West Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas; most of them fresh water. — 01:02, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Disagree per my comments below. Tomertalk 19:29, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Disagree although we need to merge some things and rip apart other things that are being lumped together. In this case the anon is correct. - Mgm|(talk) 11:16, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Disagree I agree with User: about the non-conformability of the two concepts. Even brakish water playas don't always produce salt flats. I also think that "salt pan" is less preferable than "salt flat" But is that just an American perspective?.Bejnar 05:25, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Disagree Playas can be alkali mud and do not necessarily contain evaporites, see Black Rock Desert (Talk) for my rationalization and some citations. Cxbrx (talk) 05:11, 21 May 2008 (UTC)


The articles need to be sorted out and factual errors or generalizations corrected and clarified (there are several different related phenomena here that are being lumped together). I wouldn't recommending merging them unless they're merged into intermittent lake, dry lake, dry lakebed, or playa, which is not an alkali flat (which is the same thing as a salt pan/flat). Tomertalk 19:24, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Perhaps we should move the mentions of salt flats to the appropriate article, so salt/alkali flats and playas aren't confused. Salt pan (geology) should become a redirect though, it's confusing when there's also salt pan (evaporation) and we can easily put it at a unique title. - Mgm|(talk) 11:15, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
  • I added a request for expert input on this topic. I would write it myselve myself, but I'm not a geologist. It appears that this has been mentioned before, but some clarification should be made to show the differences between playas, salt flats, salt pans, dry lakes, etc., or they should be merged. This article could also benefit from some photographs, diagrams, or at least a citation of a source. Justin 08:00, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Dry lake bed[edit]

Is a salt pan a dry lake bed? If so, should it be mentioned in the lead? Vegaswikian (talk) 21:14, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

I've changed the lead paragraph of Playa following clarification at Talk:Black Rock Desert#Playa/Dry Lake/Mud Flat/Alkali Flat/Salt Pan. Now I propose the following rationalisation:
Alternatively we could move Playa to an English term, Dry lake which currently redirects to it, and then call the new category category:Dry lakes to follow the lead article. Please comment here! - Fayenatic (talk) 21:37, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
  • To answer Vegaswikian, "It depends". Not all dry lake beds are salt pans. Most salt pans are dry lake beds. Are man-made salt evaporation ponds like those on the edge of San Francisco Bay salt pans? I'm not sure.
I don't have much of an opinion about moving this article to salt flat.
In looking at the literature, it seems like dry lake is the generic term. Playa, salt flat, Sabkha and presumably other terms are more specific. Playa is a borrowed word from Spanish, Wikipedia probably has a policy for such terms. Playa is primary used in Nevada and the US Southwest. However, Playa is also used in Australia, which has much less Spanish influence than Nevada and the US Southwest.
"Briere, Peter R. (2002). "Playa, playa lake, sabkha: Proposed definitions for old terms". Journal of Arid Environments. Elsevier. 45 (1): 1–7. doi:10.1006/jare.2000.0633.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); " offers the definition of Playa as: "An intracontinental arid zone basin with a negative water balance for over half of each year, dry for over 75% of the time, with a capillary fringe close enough to the surface such that evaporation will cause water to discharge, usually resulting in evaporites." His definition of Playa Lake is "An arid zone feature, transitional between playa and lake, neither dry more than 75% of the time nor wet more than 75% of the time. When dry, the basin qualifies as a playa." Unfortunately, he does not try to define "Dry Lake". Brier states that his definition excludes the playas of Texas since his definition of playa is that a playa is a groundwater discharge zone whereas the playas of Texas are groundwater recharge zones. For the playas of Texas, he proposes the term "ephemeral lake".
Another definition of Playa can be found at, which is from the "U.S. Bureau of Mines Dictionary of Mining, Mineral, and Related Terms published on CD-ROM in 1996." that says:
"1. Flat-floored center of undrained desert basin. Source: Leet, L. Don. 1982. Physical Geology, 6th Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall"
"2. a. A term used in southwestern United States for a dry, vegetation-free, flat area at the lowest part of an undrained desert basin, underlain by stratified clay, silt, or sand, and commonly by soluble salts. The term is also applied to the basin containing an expanse of playa, which may be marked by ephemeral lakes. See also: salina; alkali flat; salt flat; salar. Syn: dry lake"
b. See: playa lake
c. A small, generally sandy land area at the mouth of a stream or along the shore of a bay. Etymol: Spanish, beach, shore, coast. AGI
Source: Dictionary of Mining, Mineral, and Related Terms
However, the same source has the definition of "Dry Lake" as "See Playa"!
I'm ambivalent about moving Playa to Dry Lake, but I'm not opposed, since dry lake is the generic term for other, more specific terms. My sense is that "Playa" is the preferred term in the geology literature.
Creating a category for category:Playas is appealing, but might just add confusion, since a playa is also a beach, see Playa del Carmen. In the case of the Black Rock Desert, a portion of the desert is a Playa that floods often. However, other parts of the Black Rock Desert have been dry for a few thousand years (since Lake Lahontan dried up). So, the Black Rock Desert has a "Dry Lake Bed" or "Playa", but is not a "Dry Lake Bed" or "Playa". Confusing, eh? So, I'm somewhat opposed to creating a category:Playas, but I'm somewhat in favor of category:Dry lakes because Dry Lake is the more generic term that includes other more specific terms and because Dry Lake is the more common term (outside of the geology literature) than Playa —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cxbrx (talkcontribs) 06:05, 27 May 2008 (UTC)