GREAT SALT LAKE — One of the strangest and most striking places in Utah — an enormous oddity that scientists say was created accidentally by human engineering — is getting a bit of a remodeling job.
Union Pacific Railroad is beginning a bridge-building project to replace a small portion of a causeway that’s been blamed for a half-century of disruption in the natural circulation of the Great Salt Lake.
Experts say the railroad causeway built across the lake in 1959 led to the formation of a vast plate of hardened salt covering hundreds of square miles — probably one of the largest man-made objects on Earth. It surrounds and evidently underlies nearly the entire north arm of the lake.
“The construction of the causeway has created the necessary conditions for the salt to form,” said Andrew Rupke of the Utah Geological Survey who has been conducting studies on the so-called salt crust that developed in the last 56 years.
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