Earth has about a dozen different types of lakes, which are divided into a wide variety of subtypes and each has their own unique characteristic. Whether it was formed through volcanic eruptions, glacier movements, sinkholes, landslides, or rift zones, the following list has one similar attribute – these are the deepest lakes in the entire world.
Deepest Lakes in the World
1. Lake Baikal
Located in the mountainous region of south-east Siberia in Russia, Lake Baikal is measured at 5,382 feet deep making it the world’s deepest lake. It is considered the oldest known lake in the world for having existed for 25 million years. This freshwater lake is also known as the Galapagos of Russia, and holds 20% of the total unfrozen freshwater reserve of the world amounting to 5,662 cubic miles. Its rich ecosystem and exceptionally crystal clear waters are the main reasons why it was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a massive surface area of 31,722 km², and 636 km in length and 79 km in width.
2. Lake Tanganyika
With a depth of 4,822 feet, Lake Tanganyika in Africa earned the title of the second deepest lake in the world. It is also the world’s longest lake at 673 km and is shared by four countries. Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo have the bigger part of the lake amounting to 86% of the total area while the rest are spread between Zambia and Burundi. It holds 4,500 cubic miles of water that accounts for 18% of the world’s freshwater. Lake Tanganyika is home to 350 freshwater species and most of them are endemic. English explorers, John Speke and Richard Francis Burton, were credited for its discovery in the 17th century.
3. Caspian Sea
With its massive surface area and salinity of the water, ancient people originally thought it to be a sea; hence, it was named Caspian Sea. However, most of its characteristics suggest it is a lake such as not having any connection with any world ocean. While it is the third deepest in the world, it is mostly known as the world’s largest lake. It has a maximum depth of 3,363 feet and holds about 18,800 cubic miles of water. It is bordered by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Russia. The Caspian Sea was originally part of an ancient Tethys Ocean, but when platforms shifted over the decades, the ocean lost its connection.
4. Lake Vostok
Lake Vostok, Antarctica’s largest lake by volume, is also the world’s fourth deepest lake with a maximum depth of 2952.76 feet. It is by far the biggest subglacial lake out of the 400 found in the continent. It was named after Russia’s Vostok Research Station, which is situated on top of the lake. Russian geographer Andrey Kapitsa was the first to speculate of its existence due to the seismic soundings from the 1959 Soviet Antarctic Expeditions when the thickness of the ice was being measured. However, it took another expedition in 1993 to finally confirm it through the use of laser altimetry by J. P. Ridley. Around 1,300 cubic miles of freshwater is under the ice surface which scientists believed possess unique life forms as it has not been disturbed for at least 15 million years.
5. O’Higgins-San Martin Lake
The fifth deepest lake in the world is the O’Higgins-San Martin Lake with a maximum depth of 2,742 feet. It is also categorized as an international lake as it is shared by two countries. Chile called it O’Higgins Lake while Argentina called it San Martin. The O’Higgins-San Martin Lake has a total surface area of 1,013 km² from which Argentina holds 459 km² and the rest of the 554 km² are within the territory of Chile. The name of this shared lake was adopted from independence heroes from both countries such as Jose de San Martin (Chile) and Bernardo O’Higgins (Argentina).
6. Lake Malawi
One of the African Great Lakes is ranked as the sixth deepest lake in the world. Lake Malawi has a maximum depth of 2,315 feet. It is bordered by two countries such as Mozambique, which it is referred to as Lago Niassa, and Tanzania, where it is known as Lake Nyasa. By its sheer volume of 2,000 cubic miles of freshwater, it is the fourth largest freshwater lake and by its surface area, it is ranked as the ninth largest. Scientists have classified it under meromictic type due to the fact that the water layers in the lake do not mix. Portions of Lake Malawi from both countries have been declared as a reserve or national park.
7. Lake Issyk-Kul
Located in the mountains of eastern Kyrgyzstan is Lake Issyk-Kul, the seventh deepest lake in the world at 2192 feet. The water has 0.6% salinity in it to be considered freshwater but far to the 3.5% salinity of regular seawater. It was named Issyk-Kul because it means “warm lake” in their local language. The lake maintains a warm temperature and never freezes even if it is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. During the Cold War, when Kyrgyzstan is still part of the USSR, the Soviet Army has operated a submarine and torpedo technology facility in the east part of the lake.
8. Great Slave Lake
Canada’s Great Slave Lake is the world’s eighth deepest lake with a maximum depth of 2, 015 feet. It is also regarded as the deepest in North America, and by surface area, it is the fifth largest in the world. It is home to many species but for about eight months in a year, a bigger portion of the lake is frozen particularly during winter when even trailer trucks can cross it due to its thick ice. The name of the lake originated from the early inhabitants in the area, a North American Indian tribe called “Slavey.”
9. Crater Lake
The world’s ninth deepest lake, with a maximum depth of 1,949 feet, is Crater Lake. It also holds the distinction of the deepest out of all the bodies of water in the entire United States. The lake is also classified as a Caldera, which is a larger depression beneath the crater after a volcanic eruption. The lake can be found in the Klamath County, Oregon. It was formed when Mount Mazama erupted almost 8,000 years ago. There are no indigenous fish species found on Crater Lake but the clean deep blue water was filled up with salmon and trout artificially since late 1800s up to the early 1940s.
10. Lake Matano
Indonesia has the 10th deepest lake in world, Lake Matano. Situated in South Sulawesi, the locals call it Danau Matano or Matana. It has a maximum depth of 1,940 feet and the deepest portion of the lake is below sea level or what is known as crypto depression. It is also classified as tectonic wherein the lake was formed as a result of tectonic movements or when the crust of the Earth starts tilting and folding. Due to the remote location, its rich ecosystem is quite unique and diverse that it is often chosen for scientific studies.
Lakes are often visited by locals and tourists alike because of its majestic beauty and unique ecosystem. However, without proper care, these natural wonders of the world would lose not only its aesthetic beauty but also its basic function as a home to various living species.
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