Research Contracts

New Search

Project at a Glance

Project Status: complete

Report Published September 1994:

Title: Generation, characterization, and transport of Owens (Dry) Lake Dusts

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Cahill, Thomas; and Thomas Gill; Dale Gillette; Elizabeth Gearhart, Jeffrey Reid; Mee-Ling Yau

Contractor: UC Davis

Contract Number: A132-105

Research Program Area: Atmospheric Processes, Ecosystem & Multimedia Effects

Topic Areas: Area Sources, Ecosystem Impacts, Impacts, Natural (Biogenic) Sources


The concentrations of windblown PM10 dust generated from the surface of Owens Lake are among the highest found in the United States. The dust is generated by the grinding action of sand particles, broken crust, and other debris on the salt and silt components of the lake bed. Under certain meteorological conditions, the lake bed forms a hard crust that is initially resistant to abrasion by sand, but continued erosion eventually destroys it. The particle size in the windblown dust are finer than typical soil-based PM10 particles. The small particle size and the topographical constraints of the Owens Valley allows Owens Lake dust to be transported long distances to the north and south. Owens Lake dust impacts the Schulman Grove Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest and the Naval Air Weapons Center at China Lake, among other areas. The dust concentrations generated from Owens Lake could be reduced by limiting the movement of sand over the surface of the lake bed. This could be accomplished by wetting the surface, by stabilizing the surface with vegetation, or by trapping the sand in dune arrays. A combination of these methods may offer the best solution to the problem.


For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 322-3893

Stay involved, sign up with CARB's Research Email Distribution List