Deepest Lakes in the World
The Earth’s surface is riddled with water bodies of various shapes, sizes and, of course, depths. Moreover, the water varies between salt water and freshwater, and the bodies range from oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. Some of the most fascinating water bodies are lakes; the deeper they are, the more interesting they become.
Siberia is the proud host to the world’s deepest lake: Baikal. This lake is romanticized as the “Blue eye of Siberia,” the “Pearl of Siberia,” and even the “Galapagos of Russia”. This lake is not only the deepest, but also the largest freshwater lake and the oldest lake in the world. This one water body contains more fresh water than all of the Great Lakes combined; over 25 million years has brought this heritage site to an amazing volume of 23,600 cubic kilometers. Formed in an active rift valley, with a maximum depth of 1,637 meters, the lake is surrounded by hot springs and bordering areas experience frequent earthquakes. Regardless of the consistent seismic activity, or possibly because of it, the lake is home to over 1,000 species of plants and 1,500 varieties of animals; included in this is the Baikal Seal, one of only three freshwater seal species in the world.
Lake Tanganyika in Africa has a maximum depth of 1,470 meters, and is the second deepest lake in the world, closely followed by the Caspian Sea at a depth of 1,025 meters. The Caspian Sea, though technically a lake, is salty, having the salinity of approximately 1/3 of average sea water. The reason for this is that it is a leftover’ body of water from the ancient Tethys Ocean. Millions of years left Iran and Russia with a landlocked body of water in which over 130 rivers provide inflow though there is no outflow. Although the Caspian Sea ranks third for maximum depths, the mean depth is drastically lower due to the sheer size of the lake and the variable depths between the northern, central and southern regions. This allows for an interesting diversity of flora and fauna, including the Caspian Seal, the second of the worlds’ three species of inland seals.
Crater Lake, in Oregon, deserves an honorable mention as well. Though the maximum depth of the lake is only 594 meters, allowing only an 11th place spot in the world’s deepest oceans, when we begin to calculate the mean depths of all the lakes considered, Crater Lake trumps the Caspian Sea and pulls in at 3rd place. The recently discovered subglacial Vostok Lake should also be accounted for. This lake is estimated at over 1 million years old and is located beneath a glacier in the Antarctic Ocean. Scientists believe this could be the purest lake in the world.
Of the lakes mentioned, we see representatives of Eastern Europe, Africa, North and South America and Antarctica. There is amazing diversity on this planet and startling depths to be explored, pun intended.