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Lake Manly: Wikis


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Lake Manly
The Lake Manly system rendered as it appeared during its last maximum 22,000 years ago
Location Death Valley
Inyo County, California
Coordinates 36°13′12″N 116°49′38″W / 36.22°N 116.8272°W / 36.22; -116.8272Coordinates: 36°13′12″N 116°49′38″W / 36.22°N 116.8272°W / 36.22; -116.8272
Lake type Endorheic rift lake (former)
Primary inflows Furnace Creek Wash
Primary outflows Terminal
Basin countries United States
Max. length 130 km (81 mi)
Max. width 10 km (6.2 mi)
Surface area 260 km2 (100 sq mi)
Max. depth 240 m (790 ft)
Surface elevation -86 m (−282 ft)
Sections/sub-basins Badwater Basin
Middle Basin
Cotton Bail Marsh

Lake Manly is a pluvial, former freshwater, endorheic, rift lake that filled the Death Valley basin of Inyo County, California through the Holocene before the area's climate changed to desert. Following its isolation from the Colorado River system, Lake Manly receded by evaporation with Badwater Basin, Middle Basin, and Cotton Bail Marsh occupying the space left behind. At its greatest extent Lake Manly was roughly 80 mi (130 km) and 800 ft (240 m) deep.[1]



Pleistocene Lakes and Rivers of Mojave

As Lake Manly evaporated to the surface of Death Valley, it left a remarkable legacy. Under the surface of Death Valley is one of the world's largest aquifers. Being fed by the Amargosa River and Salt Creek, this aquifer is barely visible above ground at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the valley at -282 ft (−86.0 m).[1]

Shoreline Butte has easy-to-see strandlines formed by wave action from the ancient. These features were created by stands of the lake, which would change its depth over time and also cause slight changes in climate. The conditions under which this lake existed are called "pluvial" by geologists instead of glacial because glaciers did not directly touch Death Valley - but the meltwater from the glaciers and the cooler and wetter climate of the time affected the valley. Approximately 8,000 ft (2,400 m) of gravel, sand, and mud overlay the bedrock of the valley floor.

Lake Manly is named after William L. Manly, who was among the original Death Valley party in 1849. Manly and a companion hiked out of Death Valley into the Greater Los Angeles Area, where he found help and returned to rescue his party.[2]


In 2005, severe flooding resulted in Lake Manly reappearing on a large scale.[3] More than 100 square miles (260 km2) were covered by the lake, allowing some tourists and park rangers to become probably the only humans to canoe across Death Valley. The lake was about two feet at its deepest point. It evaporated quickly, leaving behind a mud-salt mixture.


  1. ^ a b US Geological Survey (30 June 2000). "Shoreline Butte: Ice age Death Valley". Death Valley Geology Field Trip Shoreline Butte. Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2009-09-10.  
  2. ^ Manly, William L. (1894). Death Valley in '49. San Jose: The Pacific Tree and Vine Co. OCLC 166605554. Retrieved 2009-09-10.  
  3. ^ National Weather Service (15 August 2004). "Survey of Death Valley Flood". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Dept of Commerce. Retrieved 2009-09-05.  

Further reading

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