An Ancient Lake - the Lake Livada Story

Evaporite deposits in Railorad Valley started forming about 3.5 million years ago.  These collected in the lowest area of the inland sea that covered most of Nevada and half of Utah. Larger than the Recent and well-known Lakes Bonneville and Lahontan, the Pliocene Lake Livada still has strong geopmorphic expression throughout the Great Basin. Rarely, well marked shorelines are present.

Sometime after the major salts in Railroad Basin were deposited the area was uplifted, and the "Central Nevada High" began to form.  We believe this was about 1,000,000 years ago, and this uplift persists today.  The high area is depicted on a contour map of playa elevations, shown below.  This high area corresponds perfectly with a Bouguer gravity map, but is not shown here.  

The important point to note is how much water originally filled the lake, and the size of the evaporite deposits that formed in Railroad Valley as a result of about 100 cycles of lake filling and evaporation over a 3 million year period.

Lake Livada also existed in Miocene time, and probably formed in the Eocene, about 35 million years ago.  Below is a reconstruction of Lake Livada about 15 million years ago.  Rocks of this age contain the facies shown on the map.  A cross section (blue line) is drawn from measured outcrops and well data, and shown below.

Miocene Lake Livada