The world’s many lakes are popular tourist attractions for their scenic views, calming breezes and abundant wildlife, but have you ever thought about how far beneath the surface your favorite lake may go? It can be eerie to think about the great depths of the planet’s oceans and lakes, so if Thalassophobia is on the regimen, then this list may be one to abstain from. The deepest lakes in the world may be even more abyssal than you think.
Lake Baikal in Siberia is the deepest lake in the world. Reaching 5,387 feet in depth, Baikal is the only lake that is more than one mile deep. In addition to being the world’s deepest lake, Baikal is also the world’s oldest freshwater lake, having formed over 25 million years ago by the shifting of the Earth’s crust. Amazingly, Baikal is only getting wider and deeper as the surrounding area continues to teem with seismic activity. Lake Baikal contains the second greatest volume of any lake in the world (Caspian Sea) and makes up for nearly one-fifth of the world’s liquid freshwater.
Lake Baikal is internationally recognized for its biodiversity. More than half of the species living on and around the massive lake are unique to its shores, including the world’s only freshwater seal. Along with Baikal, Tanganyika is the only lake in the world deep enough to have an aphotic or “midnight” zone. The midnight zone occurs at the approximate depth of 1000 meters beneath the surface where light is no longer visible. It is exclusive to organisms who do not operate on light to survive. Tanganyika, like Baikal boasts an incredible amount of biodiversity with over 500 endemic species.
Lake Vostok in Antarctica is entirely submerged beneath 2.5 miles of ice. It’s precise shape has only been mapped using remote sensor technology. Naturally, Vostok’s isolation has garnered some fascinating ecological speculation. After extensive research, biologists have theorized that the sort of ecosystems present in the Vostok depths may emulate those found on the Moon or Jupiter’s moon, Europa.
Crater lake in Oregon, USA and Lake Matano in Indonesia are the two smallest lakes on this list by a wide margin. At just 20.6 square miles, Crater lake could fit within Lake Baikal 592 times and yet remarkably, it manages as one of the world’s deepest lakes. This is due to its formation during a catastrophic eruption by the volcano, Mount Mazama. Alternatively, Lake Matano, roughly 63 square miles, is the world’s deepest lake on an island, and owes its formation to a number of peaceful underground springs.
The top ten deepest lakes in the world measured in feet: