Lake Types

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  • Subglacial: A lake which is permanently covered by ice. They can occur under glaciers and ice caps or ice sheets. There are many such lakes, but Lake Vostok in Antarctica is by far the largest. They are kept liquid because the overlying ice acts as a thermal insulator retaining energy introduced to its underside by friction, water percolating through crevasses, by the pressure from the mass of the ice sheet above or by geothermal heating below.
  • Artificial, also called a reservoir: A lake created by flooding land behind a dam, by human excavation, or by the flooding of an open pit mine. Some of the world's largest lakes are reservoirs. Husain Sagar is a reservoir in India built in 1562.
  • Endorheic, also called terminal or closed: A lake which has no significant outflow, either through rivers, or underground diffusion. Any water within an endorheic basin leaves the system only through evaporation. These lakes are most common in desert locations, such as Lake Eyre in central Australia or the Aral Sea in central Asia.
  • Meromictic: A lake which has layers of water which do not intermix. The deepest layer of water in such a lake does not contain any dissolved oxygen. The layers of sediment at the bottom of a meromictic lake remain relatively undisturbed because there are no living organisms to stir them up.
  • Oxbow: A lake which is formed when a wide meander from a stream or a river is cut off to form a lake. They are called oxbow lakes due to the distinctive curved shape that results from this process.
  • Crater: A lake which forms in volcanic calderas or craters after the volcano has been inactive for some time. Water in these types of lakes may be fresh, or highly acidic, and may contain various dissolved minerals. Some also have geothermal activity, especially if the volcano is merely dormant rather than extinct.
  • Former: A lake which is no longer in existence. Such lakes include prehistoric lakes, and lakes which have permanently dried up through evaporation or human intervention. Owens Lake in California, USA is an example of a former lake. Former lakes are a common feature of the Basin and Range area of south-western North America.
  • Shrunken: Closely related to former lakes, a shrunken lake is one which has drastically decreased in size over geological time. Lake Agassiz is a good example of a shrunken lake, which covered much of central North America. Some notable remnants of this lake are Lake Winnipeg, and Lake Winnipegosis.

Comments (1)

Marc Blasi
Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Good Morning Craig-

Interesting stuff!

I'm probably one of the only people that lives in Florida that actually MISSES the snow and ice! As soon as I saw the words peri- and sub-glacial, my first thought was: I gotta move back up North!

A little crazy?

Dec 05, 2006 09:02 PM