Lake Amadeus is a huge salt lake located the southwest corner of Australia's Northern Territory, about 50 km north of Uluru or Ayers Rock. Another, slightly smaller, Lake Neale is located adjacent to the northwest. Both lakes lie on the Amadeus Basin that was filled with sediments eroded from the nearby mountains more than 500 million years ago. Because of the aridity, the lakes are inundated only during periods of heavy rain. For the most part, Lake Amadeus remains dry and coated with a thick crust of brilliant white salt. Dozens of small islands of red sand protrude centimeters above the surface of the lake. The plants that have taken root on these sandy islands are very hardy, and able to withstand salt as well as heat and drought.
Photo credit: Bernhard Edmaier
Lake Amadeus is elongated in shape - about 180km long and 10km wide, and is the largest salt lake in the Northern Territory. It contains up to 600 million tonnes of salt, however harvesting it has not proved viable due to its remote location.
The lake was discovered by explorer Ernest Giles in his 1872 exploration of the area. Giles originally intended to honor his benefactor Baron Ferdinand von Mueller by naming it Lake Ferdinand. However Mueller prevailed upon Giles to instead honor King Amadeus of Spain, who had previously bestowed honor on him.
Also see: Spotted Lake, Canada
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