Water And Oceanography

Deepest Lakes on Earth

Rex Trulove's image for:
"Deepest Lakes on Earth"
Image by: 

The beauty and serene quality of a natural lake is hard to ignore. Lakes are formed by several means, and the different ways they form change the nature of the lake, and also its depth. Most lakes are no more than a few dozen yards or meters in depth, at most. However, there are some that are so deep that it staggers the mind.

At nearly 5400 feet in depth, Lake Baikal in Russia is easily the world's deepest lake. It is also very large in surface area. Baikal also supports several animal and plant species found nowhere else on Earth.

The water of Baikal tends to be murky with rich sediments and salts, however this encourages the growth of plants and animals that might otherwise perish.

The salinity of Baikal nearly qualifies it as a sea, and indeed many seas are actually considered as lakes because they are landlocked. To many people, however, a body of water, which is high in salts, even if it is landlocked, is a sea rather than a lake.

By this way of thinking of it, the deepest lake in the United States, and the seventh deepest in the world, is Crater Lake, nestled nearly dead center in Crater Lake National Park, in Oregon. At nearly 2,000 feet in depth, it is unique in several ways.

It is beautiful, but the same can be said of many lakes. However Crater Lake is formed in the collapsed cauldron of a volcano. The magma pocket of the mountain emptied itself, and the weight of the mountain caused it to collapse in upon itself. This created a depression thousands of feet deep and dozens of miles in circumference. Rain and snow melt off gradually filled the lake with water.

The recognized (official) depth of the lake is 1,949 feet, but this is not accurate because of volcanic vents at the bottom of Crater Lake and the fact that since it is a National Park, there are strict guidelines regarding the equipment that can be placed in the lake and how they can be placed there.

Another difference between Crater Lake and many other deep lakes is the clarity and color of the water. The water is crystal clear, and from above, it appears as a very deep shade of blue. The water level remains fairly constant, too. Snowfall and rain approximately equal evaporation amounts.

While there are several plant and animal sub species that may be unique to the park alone, the lake originally had no fish life. Men carried buckets of fish fingerings down to the lake, long before there was an actual maintained trail. The last such planting occurred in the 1940's.

Now, there are both salmon and rainbow trout in the lake, in self-sustaining numbers. The rainbow trout grow to enormous size, and the author tried unsuccessfully to catch one that could not have weighed less than 20 pounds.

There are many very deep lakes in the world. In fact, there are many deep lakes in Oregon, in the US. However, if someone wants to be truly awed by the shear beauty and majesty of it, it is recommended that people take the trip to see Crater Lake at least once, if you life in the US. Fact is that many visitors come from all over the world to see the lake. If they can do it, why don't you?

More about this author: Rex Trulove

From Around the Web