Document Type


Publication Date

January 1979


In the Great Basin region of this country, the resource which has always been of great importance is water. In Utah, the proper management of the resources of Great Salt Lake and the watersheds tributary to it, has become a topic of increasing concern. Recently, much emphasis has been placed on developing the recreational and industrial resources of Great Salt Lake. For optimum economic and social benefits from future development plans, the lake and its tributary watersheds need to be considered in terms of a single entity. In this regard, the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) has conducted several studies which involve hydrologic basins tributary to Great Salt Lake. Significantly lacking, however, was a comprehensive study of Great Salt Lake itself. The reserach reported herein is directed towards the development of a comprehensive predictive hydrodynamic model of Great Salt Lake (see Figure 1). This model provides two general types of information. First, it provides circulation patterns within the lake for configurations and conditions imposed by the planner. This information is necessary to predict movement of pollutants, paths of freshwater inflows, and other phenomena which depend on currents. Second, the model provides information on the distribution of salinity throughout the lake. This informatino is vital to the industries around the lake which extract minerals from the brines of the lake. These capabilities of the model will also be valuable in providing data to be used by quality models. It could be argued that because of a lack of field data for model verification, the development of a mathematical model was premature. Some field data on salinity are being collected regularly and the data base is steadily growing. Hopefully, the Utah Separtment of Natural Resources will implement a program of measuring velocities and circulation patterns to provide a data base for calibrating the hydraulic model. In any case, the initial development of a mathematical model is appropriate so that over the next few years, it can be improved and adjusted as more data become available. It seemed unwise to wait for a complete data base before launching a lengthy program of development of a mathematical model. The objectives of the research were as follows: 1. To develop new mathematical models or incorporate existing models of the flow through the Southern Pacific causeway embankment and culverts to act as boundary conditions in mathementical circulation models of the southern and northern arms of the Great Salt Lake. 2. To develop an upper-layer hydrodynamic circulation model of Great Salt Lake. As a first step toward developing a more comprehensive two-layer model, it was recognized that the main function of the lower layer within the lake may be to act as a reservoir for passing salinity from the north arm to the surface layer in the south arm. If this is indeed the case, then an upper-layer model could be constucted based on the assumption that the interface is a horizontal boundary which feeds salinity itno the upper layer in some reasonable fashion to maintain continuity. 3. To attempt to develop a coupled two-layer model of Great Salt Lake. It was proposed to use the finite element technique to generate a hydrodynamic model of the circulation patterns in both the upper and lower layers. The finite element representation incorporates cubic velocity variations in the two layers to more accurately simulate the recircualtion flow patterns caused by wind action on the surface and fresh water flow from the contributing streams. 4. To perform a laboratory experiment devised to evaluate the rate of salinity exchange from the lower high-density layer through the interfacial shear zone into the upper layer. It was believed that the exchange of salinity between the two layers is a direct function of the intensity of the interfacial shear and the resulting turbulent mixing at the interface. 5. To attempt to adjust the model to Great Salt Lake. All available velocity and salinity concentration data collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Utah Geological and Mineral Survey (UGMS) during recent years was used. 6. To cooperate with researchers who are studying other aspects of the lake by making the mathematical model available to them. A modeling appraoch utilizing equations based on the fundamental laws of physics, coupled with the application of the versatile finite element method gives the hydrodynamic and convetion-dispersion models of Great Salt Lake the versatility required to examine the spectrum of management alternatives. The predictive capability is greatly enhanced in this approach by minimizing the number of empirical constants to be evlatued. It seems clear that the development of these comprehensive models of the lake is a necessary step in the subsequent development and use of both water quality and management models of this important natural resource.