Lakes are water bodies surrounded by land. They do not connect to the sea. They are formed in mountainous regions, basins, rift zones, or from volcanoes and glaciation. They are mostly fed by melting snow, rivers, and rainfall. Here we take a look at the top 10 deepest lakes in the world. The ranking is based on data from the National Park Service of the US Department of Interior.
Top 10 deepest lakes on Earth
Humans have been fascinated by the depth of lakes and other water bodies for centuries. They used to measure the depth of lakes using primitive devices that were not always accurate. But today we study water bodies with the help of high-tech tools like sonar, miniature submarines, and remote cameras. The ranking below reflects the maximum depth of lakes rather than the average depth.
10- Lake Matano, Indonesia (590 meters)
Also known as Danau Matano or Matana, this lake in South Sulawesi region of Indonesia has a depth of 590 meters or 1936 feet. Besides being among the top 10 deepest lakes, it also happens to be the world’s deepest lake on an island. It is home to many plant and animal species that are not found anywhere else in the world. A Lake Matano Festival is held every year to attract foreign tourists.
9- Crater Lake, United States (594 meters)
Located in the Cascade Range of Oregon, this lake was formed only about 7,700 years ago following the collapse of the Mount Mazama volcano. The area was inhabited by Native Indians at the time. They would tell mythological stories of the collapse of the volcano and the creation of the lake. The 594 meters deep Crater Lake is fed largely by rainfall, which helps explain its deep blue color. It is the deepest lake in the United States.
8- Great Slave Lake, Canada (614 meters)
Located in the Northwest Territories of Canada, the Great Slave Lake is the deepest lake in North America. It is 614 meters deep and gets its name from “Slavey,” which is the Cree name for their enemies. The Northwest Territories’ capital Yellowknife is located on the northern shore of the lake. The ice on the lake is thick enough to hold cars and SUVs for half of the year.
7- Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan (668 meters)
“Issyk Kul” means “warm lake” in the Kyrgyz language. It gets its name because it’s surrounded by snow-capped peaks of the Tian Shan mountains but it never freezes. Issyk Kul is the second largest saline lake in the world after the Caspian Sea. The lake is 113 miles long and 37 miles wide. Its maximum depth is 668 meters or 2,192 feet. More than a dozen streams and rivers flow into the lake.
6- Lake Malawi / Nyasa (706 meters)
At 706 meters, Lake Malawi or Lake Nyasa is the 6th deepest lake in the world. It is located between Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi in Africa. It is home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world. More than 1,000 different species of fish have been recorded in the lake. Malawi Lake’s layers are permanently stratified and its water layers do not mix. It is 350 miles long and 47 miles wide.
5- O’Higgins / San Martin Lake, Chile & Argentina (836 meters)
The O’Higgins-San Martin Lake has a depth of 836 meters or 2,742 feet. It is located between Chile and Argentina. The lake is known as O’Higgins in Chile and San Martin in Argentina. The O’Higgins and Chico glaciers feed the lake and the fine-grained glacial rocks suspended in it give it the characteristic milky blue color. It is one of the least known lakes in this list.
4- Lake Vostok, Antarctica (~1,000 meters)
There are more than 400 subglacial lakes in Antarctica, and Lake Vostok is the deepest and largest of them. Located on the southern Pole of Cold, the lake is estimated to be 1,000 meters deep. Lake Vostok is buried under 2.5 miles of ice. It is named after Russia’s Vostok Station, which is located nearby. Geologists had suspected the presence of a giant freshwater lake underneath the central East Antarctic Ice Sheet since the 1970s, but its exact measurements were not obtained until 1996. Scientists have discovered the existence of many new forms of bacterial life in the lake.
3- Caspian Sea (1,025 meters)
Despite its name, Caspian Sea has all the characteristics of a lake, hence it’s considered one. The lake is surrounded by Russia, Turkmenistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. Geologically, the Caspian Sea and Black Sea were part of the ancient Tethys Ocean. The Caspian Sea became landlocked due to climate change nearly 5.5 million years ago. It is the largest enclosed inland water body on the planet, accounting for more than 40% of the water in the world’s lakes. It gets more than 75% of its water from the Volga River in Russia.
2- Lake Tanganyika, Central Africa (1,470 meters)
Located between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, and Zambia, it is the second deepest and second oldest lake on the planet. The 4,823 feet deep Lake Tanganyika has rich biodiversity. It holds about 18% of the world’s freshwater. It is 420 miles long and 31 miles wide. The lake has several islands within its boundary.
1- Baikal Lake, Russia (1,642 meters)
Located in the Siberia region of Russia, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake on the planet. It was formed about 25 million years ago, which makes it the oldest lake on the planet. Baikal has the clearest water of any lake. It holds between 20% and 23% of the unfrozen fresh water on the surface of Earth. It is also home to a large number of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world.