The Lake!

Results from the Quickpost Quiz.

As amazing as it may seem, the Great Salt Lake has a larger average area than the total area of the state of Rhode Island. Here’s additional info!

The size of the Great Salt Lake varies considerably in area over the year because of its shallow depth. The average area of the lake is 1,700 square miles. The smallest and largest areas, as reported by Wikipedia, are 950 sq mi and 3300 sq mi.

The size of Rhode Island is also suspect. First we have Total Area, reported to be 1,545 sq mi. Then we have total LAND area, 1,045 sq mi.

the purpose of this Quiz was to give us New Englander’s an appreciation for the size of the Great Salt Lake, and to give them Utah-ians an appreciation for the size of Rhode Island.

Lakes in America that have a greater area than Rhode Island:
Lake Superior (36,670 sq mi)
Lake Huron (23,000 sq mi)
Lake Michigan (22,300 sq mi)
Lake Erie (9,910 sq mi)
Lake Ontario (7,340 sq mi)
The Great Salt Lake (1,700 sq mi)

You’ll notice that the first five are, of course, the Great Lakes. Which leads me to an interesting conclusion: Lakes that are larger than Rhode Island are all conveniently associated with Greatness. Perhaps, if not already, Rhode Island should be the litmus paper of Area Greatness.

6 thoughts on “The Lake!

  • 9/10/2006 at 12:19 pm

    Countries that are bigger than Rhode Island include Great Britain. Coincidence?

  • 9/10/2006 at 4:10 pm

    Ah, yes.

    I thought maybe you would have taken into account the exact size of the Great Salt Lake at this very moment. See, I had a layover in Salt Lake City last month, and before landing, we circled out over the lake, and you could tell that the shoreline was significantly lower than it used to be.

    I guessed Rhode Island as being bigger because I thought maybe you heard or read somewhere where the SLC was shrinking to the point where it just became smaller than Rhode Island.

    Anyway, after I guessed RI as my answer, I looked it up. The wikipedia entry I used is neither 1545 or 1045, but rather 1214. (My atlas says 1045, but I *just* looked that up). Like you, I saw that the Great Salt Lake had an average of 1700, with a min and max of 950 and 3300.

    But that doesn’t tell us how big the lake is right *today*. So let’s figure it out!

    There are two places at the lake where the USGS measures the elevation of the water level. In Saline, UT, the current lake elevation is 4195.8 feet above sea level. And then we’ve got the elevation at Saltair Boat Harbor, which is currently 4196.5 feet above sea level. Also notice how the monthly trend is shrinking. (For elevation data since 1847, check out this link.)

    Ok, so what do these elevations tell us? They can tell us the surface area of the lake when we use this graph. Using this graph, you can estimate that the current surface area is approximately 1200 square miles. This is smaller than both RI’s total area and wikipedia’s incorrect area (listed on the entry for “Rhode Island”). However, the current surface area is still larger than Rhode Island’s land-only area.

    So, I think, depending on the data that we use, you can say that either Rhode Island or the Great Salt Lake is bigger.

  • 9/10/2006 at 8:56 pm

    Fun Fact: Because of the Great Salt Lake’s considerable variance in depth, Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty disappeared for many years after he built it. It has since resurfaced.

  • 9/11/2006 at 12:00 pm

    Also, the Great Wall is longer than Rhode Island.


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