Paul Jewell

Department of Geology and Geophysics

University of Utah


Paul Jewell has been on the faculty of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah since 1989.   Prior to joining the University, he worked as a geologist in mineral and geothermal exploration.  The major thrust of Jewell’s research is applying hydrologic principles to fundamental problems of sedimentation, geomorphic evolution, and geochemistry in surface water environments.  He is presently working on three surface environments: Pleistocene Lake Bonneville in the western United States, the Great Salt Lake, and alluvial channels and erosion in the intermountain west. He teaches classes in basic geology, fluid flow in surface environments, numerical methods, and digital mapping.

Title: Historic Low Stand of the Great Salt Lake, Utah: Mass Balance Models and Origin of the Deep Brine Layer

Wednesday, May 9th, 2:45 PM

Abstract: The Great Salt Lake of northern Utah is among the largest and most ecologically important water bodies in North America.  Since the 1950s, the lake has been divided into two hydrologically distinct water bodies by a gravel-fill railroad causeway.  Flux through the causeway is driven by two forces: differential surface elevation and differential density between the north and south arms.  Precise quantification of water flux through the causeway has been problematic due to the highly heterogeneous and slowly compacting nature of the causeway fill.  Between 2008 and 2015, the Great Salt Lake shrank to near historic low water levels.  During this same time, enhanced gauging of various surface inflows and outflows and density measurements made throughout the lake permit detailed water mass calculations of both the north and south arms.  Results suggest that during wet periods, density-driven flow through the causeway predominates due to freshening of water in the south arm.  At other times the dominant drivers of causeway flow are south-to-north head gradients across the causeway.  These head-driven causeway fluxes have a seasonal signal.  The primary driver of deep brine layer in the southern arm of the lake over the past 20 years could flow through the culverts or causeway although the latter is favored by this study.


Why We Care

  • Much has been made of the tragic loss of rain forests in our hemisphere... But, in fact, because of their productivity of plant and animal matter rich in fats and proteins, freshwater marshes are the most productive ecosystems on Earth.

    Charles Potter, former Executive Director, North American Wildlife Foundation