, Volume 473, Issue 1–3, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Chemical and physical characteristics of the Salton Sea, California

  • G. Chris Holdren
  • Andrew Montaño


A 1-year sampling program was conducted to assess current chemical and physical conditions in the Salton Sea. Analyses included general physical conditions and a suite of water quality parameters, including nutrients, trophic state variables, major cations and anions, trace metals and organic compounds. Samples were collected from three locations in the main body of the lake and from the three major tributaries. Nutrient concentrations in the Salton Sea are high and lead to frequent algal blooms, which in turn contribute to low dissolved oxygen concentrations. The tributaries consist primarily of agricultural return flows with high nutrient levels. Concentrations of trace metals and organic compounds do not appear to be of major concern. Two geochemical models, PHRQPITZ and PHREEQC, were used to evaluate potential chemical reactions limiting the solubility of selected water quality variables. Modeling indicated that the Salton Sea is supersaturated with respect to calcite, gypsum, and other minerals. Precipitation of these minerals may serve as a sink for phosphorus and limit the rate of salt accumulation in the Salton Sea.

Salton Sea saline lakes nutrients nitrogen phosphorus ionic composition dissolved solids geochemical modeling 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Chris Holdren
    • 1
  • Andrew Montaño
    • 1
  1. 1.Bureau of ReclamationDenverU.S.A

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