hide announcement WIN your very own meteorite! Subscribe, gift or renew a subscription to Cosmos and automatically go into the draw – Shop now!

Salt lakes of the Great Sandy Desert


The salt deposits left behind by these evaporating lakes are visible from space.


A view of the Lake Willis (at left) and Lake Hazlett (right), ephemeral salt lakes of the Great Sandy Desert  in Western Australia.
A view of the Lake Willis (at left) and Lake Hazlett (right), ephemeral salt lakes of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia.
NASA Earth Observatory

This photograph of Lake Willis and Lake Hazlett was taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station while passing over the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia.

Hundreds of ephemeral salt lakes are peppered throughout the arid Australian outback. When occasional flood waters pour into the lakebeds and then evaporate, they leave salt mineral deposits and create bright, expansive layers that are readily visible from space. The reddish-brown linear sand dunes are slightly higher in elevation (1.5 to 3 meters) and align with the general east to west wind flow in the region.

Approximately 32 kilometres south of these lakes lies the fourth largest salt lake in Australia: Lake Mackay. The Pintubi people and other Indigenous groups survived around these lakes for thousands of years in what is now called the Kiwirrkurra Community.

Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Latest Stories
MoreMore Articles