Welcome to our website, dear readers. Lake Baikal is the oldest existing freshwater lake on our planet. According to preliminary data, this lake is about 20-25 million years old. In addition to being the oldest, it is also the deepest continental body of water with a maximum depth of 1642 meters.
In addition to its long history and great depth, Baikal boasts the largest amount of fresh water available to man.
And today we decided to take a closer look at this amazing miracle of nature. In the article we have collected the most interesting facts about Lake Baikal.
Baikal is located in southern Siberia, between the Republic of Buryatia in the southeast and the Irkutsk region in the northwest. The lake itself is conveniently located in a deep structural depression surrounded by mountains (some mountains rise more than 2,000 meters above the surface of the lake).
As we said earlier, it is the largest source (by volume) of unfrozen fresh water. It accounts for 23,615.39 km³ of water, which is approximately 19-20% of all available fresh water in the world. It has more fresh water than all five Great Lakes of North America (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario) combined.
Despite its huge size (31,722 km²), Baikal is getting bigger and bigger every year. This is caused by the movement of lithospheric plates in its central part. Every year it grows by about 2 centimeters.
Due to such active expansion, scientists predict that in a few million years this lake will turn into an ocean.
In the summer of 2008, scientists from Russia sent to the bottom of the reservoir research deep-sea manned vehicles “Mir-1” and “Mir-2”, which gas hydrates were found in Baikal. Gas hydrates are solid compounds consisting of water and gas. When heating 1 cubic meter of gas hydrate, 160-170 cubic meters of natural gas can be obtained. That is why scientists consider gas hydrates as one of the potential sources of fuel in the future.
It should be noted that Baikal is the only freshwater spring in the world where gas hydrates have been found at all.
The water in this freshwater spring is very clean and clear. And the merit in this purity, first of all, should be given to small planktonic crustaceans – the Baikal epishura. These crustaceans make up to 80% of all crustaceans living in the reservoir. This is a real live filter. One adult epishur crustacean can filter a whole glass of water in a day.
This body of water has islands. And not one or two, but more than 30. The largest islands are Olkhon (area 730 km2), Ushkany Islands (area 9.8 km²), Yarki (area 1.8 km²).
Only one river flows out of this reservoir – the Angara. This is the only outlet for water from the lake. It should be noted that 336 rivers flow into Baikal, some of them are seasonal. But this phenomenon is not unique to Baikal. This feature is characteristic of almost all lakes. For example, only one river flows out of Ladoga – the Neva. From Onega – the Svir River. This phenomenon is due to the fact that water flows out along the deepest channel, which will be lower than the rest. If several rivers come out of the reservoir, then in the end it will wash out some channel more strongly and the rest will be above the water level in the lake. In the end, there will only be one river left.
There is rich flora and fauna. More than 1000 species of plants and 2500 species of animals live in the reservoir. It should be noted that more than 80% of the animals found in the lake are endemic. That is, they are found exclusively in this reservoir, and if it disappears, all the species inhabiting it will disappear forever.
One of the three freshwater seals in the world lives in this reservoir – the Baikal seal (also endemic) and about 140 species of endemic flatworms.
In winter, the lake freezes over. In many places the ice is transparent. When people walk on the ice of a reservoir, it may seem that it is about to fail. But this is a misleading feeling. In fact, the ice is very thick and durable. Its thickness can be from 0.5 to 1.4 meters, and in some places even 2 meters. It is so thick that trucks can easily drive over it.
This body of water is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He was added to his list in 1996.
The first person to discover and put this reservoir on the map was a Russian explorer, a Tobolsk Cossack – Kurbat Afanasyevich Ivanov. He reached Lake Baikal in 1643. But then he mistakenly thought that it was not a lake, but a sea, so he gave it the Evenk name “Lamu”, which translates as “sea”. A little later, in Russian, the name “Baigal-Dalai” began to be used to designate this reservoir, which is translated from Buryat as “Natural Sea”. Later, the word “Baigal” was adapted to the Russian language, and the letter “g” was replaced by the letter “k”. This is how the final name of this lake was formed.
The reservoir is one of the Seven Wonders of the Underwater World and has the nickname “Pearl of Siberia”.
This reservoir has the thickest bottom sediments in the world. The depth of the silt here is about 8500 meters. Silt deposits began to accumulate on the future bottom of Lake Baikal 65 million years ago, even before the appearance of the lake itself.
Every year seismographs register from 3 to 8 thousand earthquakes on Baikal. Earthquake sources are observed at depths of 12-22 kilometers. Most earthquakes are invisible to humans and are recorded only by special instruments.
At the moment, the strongest earthquake on Lake Baikal was recorded in January 1862 (in 1861 according to the old style). This earthquake was called the Tsagan earthquake and had a force of 10 points. It was because of this natural cataclysm that one of the largest bays, Proval Bay, was formed. This concludes our publication, dear readers. We hope that the presented facts were interesting not only for children, but also for an adult audience.