Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lake Baikal

Executive summary by darmansjah

25-million-year-old lake, 5,000 feet (1,524 m) deep

RUSSIA’s  “Sacred Lake” is 25 million years old-the oldest lake on the planet. At 5,000 feet (1,524 m), it is also the deepest lake; it holds more water than all North America’s Great Lakes combined. It is home to more than 1,500 animal species-including the only freshwater seal, the Baikal seal-and 1,000 plant species. Experts say Baikal is more biologically diverse than others lakes because oxygen-rich water circulates from its surface to its depths, a process likely related to geothermal vents. Deep below the lake’s northern end, one vent provides warmth for sponges, snails, worms, and fish living in a pitch-dark environment. This vent confirms that at Baikal, continental masses are pulling apart.

Siberian Ice By midwinter, Russia’s freshwater Lake Baikal freezes into clear ice at least 6 feet (2 m) thick. Well-insulated travelers can then cross the lake on foot or by dogsled.

Fresh Water Haven The lake’s crystalline waters, fantastically deep in the center, grow shallow at the edges. They hold thousands of plant and animal species, many of them found nowhere else in the Earth.
Sediment Ary History Baikal, 395 miles (636 km) long, has 1,300 miles (2,092 km) of shoreline. Aobut 4 miles (6 km) of ancient sedimentary rock beneath the lake holds clues to the region’s climatic history.

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