Deepest lakes – cool – and keep in mind that deep does not necessarily mean big. There are a lot of huge lakes that “pancake” OUT across the land, covering lots of area, but this list presents the top ten deepest lakes, measured by the deepest recorded spot under the surface.
One of them, discovered only 13 years ago, is buried under one of the largest glaciers on earth and though identified, it has never actually been seen!
Technically speaking, lakes are classified by their position in the continental crust rather than oceanic, so that they can properly be described as being inland.
10. Lake Matano, Indonesia – 1,936 feet
Lake Matano (Indonesian Danau Matano), also known as Matana, is a natural lake in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is the deepest lake in Indonesia and South East Asia (ranked by maximum depth), and the 120th deepest lake in the world. With a tectonic origin and located in South Sulawesi in Indonesia, Lake Matano is an important freshwater resource in the area and the country’s deepest lake, with a maximum depth of 1936 feet. It drains from Patea River and later flows through a waterfall into Lake Mahalona (the Malili Lakes).
Lake Matana is famous for its extremely clear waters and the many endemic fish species which have arisen from a single ancestor diversified over time. The endemic fishes of Matano have been compared to that of the species swarms of the Rift Valley Lakes of Africa. While not as diverse, they are thought to have all arisen from a single ancestor species and diversified into numerous different species, which now fill many of the previously vacant ecological niches.
9. Crater Lake, USA – 1,949 ft.
Crater Lake is located in Oregon, USA, and is known for its very deep blue waters. It is situated in a large caldera that was formed from a collapsed volcano. It used to have no indigenous fish population, but was stocked with fish in the 19th and 20th centuries. Surrounding cliffs of up to two thousand feet high, two small islands and spectacular blue water, make this “outdoor laboratory” the perfect place for photographers.
Crater lake is the deepest lake in the United States with a maximum depth of 1949 feet. It may also have one of the purest water, in North America, (in terms of absence of pollutants) thanks to the generous amounts of winter snow that supplies it with water.
It was created when Mount Mazama (12,000 feet high) collapsed 7,700 years ago following a large eruption, but the legend has more details. The Klamath Indian tribe talks about a raging war between Llao, the spirit of the Below-World who lived in Mount Mazama, and Skell the spirit of the Above-World.
8. Great Slave Lake, Canada – 2,015 ft.
Located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Great Slave Lake is the fifth-largest lake (by acreage) in North America and, following Great Bear Lake, is the second-largest in Canada. Natives say that Great Slave Lake has more islands than can be named, and being just south of the Arctic Circle, it is completely frozen five and a half months out of the year.
Also known as the Grand lac des Esclaves after the Slavey North American Indians, it covers 11,000 sq miles in the Northwest Territories of Canada and goes down to 2,015 feet which makes it the deepest lake in North America. Because of the low temperatures in the area, for about eight months of the year, the lake is at least partially frozen, while during winter, the ice is so thick that trailer trucks can pass through.
There is currently no physical evidence to suggest that an unidentified large creature is living in the Great Slave Lake, but many people traveling to the lake have said otherwise. Some talk about a large hump in the water, usually mistaken for a rock until it submerges, or an alligator-like body, with a head like that of a pike.
7. Issyk Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan – 2,192 ft.
In the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, the northern Tian Shan mountains, Issyk Kul is an endorheic saline water lake that was supposed to be an ancient metropolis, 2,500 years ago. The average water depth is 1,000 feet while the deepest point goes down to 2,192 feet. The lake lies at an altitude of 1607 m (5273 ft) and has an area of about 6100 sq km (2360 sq mi). The lake is fed by many streams but is drained by none. Its clear, slightly saline waters reach a maximum depth of 700 m (2298 ft). An increase in irrigation in the lake’s basin has contributed to a decline in the lake’s level, which has dropped about 10 meters (27 feet) since 1850. The lake’s contraction appears to be related to climatic as well as human factors. The lake does not freeze in winter and supports some commercial fishing.
According to the legend, during pre-Islamic times, the king of the Ossounes had donkey’s ears. He managed to hide them however, by killing all his barbers to make sure the secret wouldn’t leak out, yet one day, one of the barbers escaped and yelled the secret into a well and left it uncovered, which caused water to rise and flood the kingdom. Archaeological finds indicated the presence of an advanced ancient civilization where the the Issyk Kul lake is currently located.
6. Lake Malawi, Africa – 2,316 ft
Also known as Lake Nyasa, Lake Malawi is the most southern lake in the East African Rift valley system, located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. At 2,316 feet deep, it’s the second deepest lake in Africa and thanks to the tropical waters it has more fish species than any other lake on Earth.
Researchers have studied sediments from core samples of Lake Malawi, which revealed that 100,000 years ago, water levels dropped to about 2,000 feet, turning the land around the lake into semi-desert and arid scrubland habitat. According to some, this may be why early man fled from Africa to colonize other parts of the world.
5. O’Higgins/San Mart�n Lake, Argentina – 2,742 ft.
Located in Patagonia, between the Ays�n Region and the Santa Cruz Province, the lake is called O’Higgins in Chile and San Martin in Argentina. It is the deepest lake in the Americas with a maximum depth of 2,742 feet (measured near the O’Higgins Glacier). The lake is very irregular consisting of eight well-defined arms with milky light-blue water coming from the suspended rock flour.
The lake is named after South American heroes Jos� de San Mart�n of Argentina and Bernardo O’Higgins of Chile, who fought together for the liberation of Chile.
4. Lake Vostok, Russia – 2,950 ft.
Out of the 140 sub-glacial lakes on earth, Vostok is the largest and the deepest, with a maximum depth of 2,950 feet. Beneath Russia’s Vostok Station, 13,000 feet under the surface of the central Antarctic ice sheet, may be the most unspoiled lake on Earth. British and Russian scientists only discovered it in 1996.
The average water temperature is -3 �C and the reason why it is still liquid below freezing is the high pressure from the weight of the ice above it. Scientists also discovered that the ice core may be 420,000 years old, meaning that the lake could have been sealed for over 500,000 years and the water beneath could be doubly as old. So far there isn’t any proof of life in LakeVostok. Notwithstanding this, in case there are species living beneath the murky depths, they are most likely to have evolved special features in order to survive the lake’s oxygen-rich environment.
Scientists know that ice covered the lakes, two of some 150 bodies of water below Antarctica’s icy surface, more than 400,000 years before humans existed. Any microbes living there can survive total darkness, high pressure, near-freezing temperatures, high acidity and oxygen debt � and, as such, possibly possess never-before-seen biology.
3. Caspian Sea, Russia – 3,363 ft.
The Caspian Sea is an inland salt lake between Europe and Asia, bordering Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Iran. With an area of 149,200 sq mi (386,400 sq km), it is the largest inland body of water in the world. Though it receives many rivers, including the Volga, Ural, and Kura, the sea itself has no outlet. It was important as a commercial route in the premodern era, when it formed part of the Mongol-Baltic trade route for goods from Asia. It is now a major source of petroleum. Its numerous ports include Baku in Azerbaijan and Bandar-e Anzali and Bandar-e Torkaman in Iran.
Fauna in the Caspian basin is very rich: great numbers of sturgeon (that’s where you get the great caviar), the Caspian seal and some fish endemic to the Caspian Sea like the Kkturn (Caspian white fish), Caspian roach, Caspian bream and an array of rare species of salmon only to be found in that area.
The Caspian Sea is very rich in energy resources like oil and gas deposits, which have been tapped since the 10th century. The oil in the Caspian basin is supposed to be worth $12 trillion.
2. Tanganyika Lake, Africa- 4,823 ft
Divided between Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (45%), Tanzania (41%) and Zambia, Tanganyika is the deepest fresh water lake in Africa and the second in the world with a maximum depth of 4,823 feet. The lake was “mistakenly” discovered in 1858 by two British explorers, Richard Burton and John Speke, in their quest to find the Nile’s source. Among the chain of lakes on the bottom of the Western Great Rift Valley,
Lake Tanganyika is outstanding for its extraordinary north-south extension (670 km) and depth (1,470 m). It is the second largest of African lakes, the second deepest (next to L. Baikal) and the longest lake of the world. Its very ancient origin, only rivalled by such old lakes as Baikal, and a long period of isolation resulted in the evolution of a great number of indigenous organisms, including brilliantly colored cichlid fishes, well-known gastropods with the appearance of marine snails, and so on. Of the 214 species of native fishes in the lake, 176 are unique to the lake, found nowhere else in the world.
A lake this old and this grand has many legends surrounding it; one of the more well known speaks of Gustave,a 20 feet long crocodile responsible for killing hundreds of people.
1. Lake Baikal, Russia – 5,369 ft
Also known as the “Pearl of Siberia”, Lake Baikal is located in Southern Siberia near the Russo-Mongolian border. Famous for being the deepest lake in the world with a maximum depth of 5,369 feet it holds a volume of water larger than that of all the North American Great Lakes combined and accounts for roughly 20% of the world�s surface fresh water.
Lake Baikal is also known as the oldest lake on Earth and was considered to have been created about 25 million years ago. It contains 1500 endemic species, of which more than half cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The lake also supports a unique and highly complex environment on the land that surrounds it. The virgin Baikal forests are famous for their abundance of the very valuable sable, as well as high densities of the brown bear, Siberian stag, roe deer, musk deer, reindeer, capercaillie, and black grouse. In 1996, the United Nation declared Lake Baikal as a World Heritage Site.