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Playas

  • By: William C. Johnson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The word playa comes from Spanish and translates into English as “shore” or “beach.” As early as the late 1800s, however, the term playa was adopted for use in geomorphology in reference to the ephemeral lakes in the Great Basin of North America. To complicate things, playa is not the only name applied to these features, and names vary geographically, sometimes even at the local scale. Terms that are used more or less synonymously with playa in North America include playa lake, playa-lake basin, prairie pothole, buffalo wallow, rainwater basin, lagoon, salt pan, salt lake, alkali lake, bolson, and dry lake. A variety of names come also from other parts of the world, including vlor (Southwest Africa), sebka (North Africa), kewire (Iran), sabkha (Middle East), ...

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