Crater Lake

Crater Lake
Crater Lake
Aerial view; note Wizard Island against the western rim
Bathymetric survey
Location Klamath County, Oregon
Coordinates 42°56′37″N 122°06′24″W / 42.94361°N 122.10667°W / 42.94361; -122.10667Coordinates: 42°56′37″N 122°06′24″W / 42.94361°N 122.10667°W / 42.94361; -122.10667
Lake type crater lake
Primary inflows precipitation and snowmelt only
Primary outflows evaporation and subsurface seepage only
Catchment area 23.3 sq mi (60 km2)
Basin countries United States
Max. length 6 mi (9.7 km)
Max. width 5 mi (8.0 km)
Surface area 20.6 sq mi (53 km2)
Average depth 1,148 ft (350 m)
Max. depth 1,949 ft (594 m)
Water volume 4.49 cu mi (18.7 km3)
Residence time 157 years
Shore length1 21.8 mi (35.1 km)
Surface elevation 6,178 ft (1,883 m)
Islands Wizard Island
Phantom Ship
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Crater Lake is a caldera lake located in the south-central region of the U.S. state of Oregon. It is the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and famous for its deep blue color and water clarity. The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot (655 m) deep caldera[1] that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago[2] by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years.

On June 12, 1853, John Wesley Hillman was reportedly the first person of European descent to see what he named "Deep Blue Lake" in Oregon. The lake was renamed at least three times, as Blue Lake, Lake Majesty, and finally Crater Lake.[3][4]

Crater Lake is known for the "Old Man of the Lake", a full-sized tree which is now a stump that has been bobbing vertically in the lake for more than a century.[5] Due to the cold water, the tree has been rather well preserved.

While having no indigenous fish population, the lake was stocked from 1888 to 1941 with a variety of fish. Several species have formed self sustaining populations.[6] Since 2002, one of the state's regular-issue license plate designs has featured Crater Lake.[7] The commemorative Oregon State Quarter, which was released by the United States Mint in 2005, features an image of Crater Lake on its reverse.[8]


Dimensions and depth

Crater Lake is located in Klamath County, approximately 60 miles (97 km) northwest of the county seat of Klamath Falls, and about 80 miles (130 km) northeast of the city of Medford.[9]

The lake is 5 by 6 miles (8 by 10 km) across with an average depth of 1,148 feet (350 m). Its maximum depth has been measured at 1,949 feet (594 m),[1][10] which fluctuates slightly as the weather changes.[1] On the basis of maximum depth, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America, after Great Slave Lake in Canada, and the ninth deepest lake in the world (Lake Baikal is the deepest). Crater Lake is often cited as the seventh deepest lake in the world, but this ranking excludes Lake Vostok, which is situated under nearly 13,000 feet (4,000 m) of Antarctic ice, and the recent soundings of San Martín Lake, which is located on the border of Chile and Argentina.

However, on the basis of comparing average depths among the world's deepest lakes, Crater Lake becomes the deepest lake in the Western Hemisphere and the third deepest in the world.[11] Comparing average depths among the world's lakes whose basins are entirely above sea level, Crater Lake is the deepest.

The caldera rim of Crater Lake ranges in elevation from 7,000 to 8,000 feet (2,100 to 2,400 m).


Geologic map of the lake floor

Mount Mazama, part of the Cascade Range volcanic arc, was built up mostly of andesite, dacite, and rhyodacite over a period of at least 400,000 years. The caldera was created in a massive volcanic eruption that led to the subsidence of Mount Mazama around 5700 BC: about 50 cubic kilometers (12 cubic miles) of rhyodacite was erupted in this event. Since that time, all eruptions on Mazama have been confined to the caldera.

Lava eruptions later created a central platform, Wizard Island, Merriam Cone, and other, smaller volcanic features, including a rhyodacite dome that was eventually created atop the central platform. Sediments and landslide debris also covered the caldera floor.[12]

Eventually, the caldera cooled, allowing rain and snow to accumulate and eventually form a lake. Landslides from the caldera rim thereafter formed debris fans and turbidite sediments on the lake bed. Fumaroles and hot springs remained common and active during this period. Also after some time, the slopes of the lake's caldera rim more or less stabilized, streams restored a radial drainage pattern on the mountain, and dense forests began to revegetate the barren landscape. It is estimated that about 720 years was required to fill the lake to its present depth of 594 m. Much of this occurred during a period when the prevailing climate was less moist than at present.[13]

Some hydrothermal activity remains along the lake floor, suggesting that at some time in the future Mazama may erupt once again.[14]

Water quality

A view of the clear blue water of Crater Lake

Due to several unique factors, most prominently that it has no inlets or tributaries, the waters of Crater Lake are some of the purest in terms of the absence of pollutants in North America.

Secchi disk clarity readings have consistently been in the high-20 meter to mid-30 meter (80–115 ft) range, which is very clear for any natural body of water. In 1997, scientists recorded a record clarity of 43.3 meters (142 ft).

The lake has relatively high levels of dissolved salts, total alkalinity, and conductivity. The average pH has generally ranged between 7 and 8.[15]

Sacred significance

The Klamath tribe of Native Americans, who may have witnessed the collapse of Mount Mazama and the formation of Crater Lake, have long regarded the lake as a sacred site. Their legends tell of a battle between the sky god Skell and Llao, the god of the underworld. Mount Mazama was destroyed in the battle, creating Crater Lake. The Klamath people used Crater Lake in vision quests, which often involved climbing the caldera walls and other dangerous tasks. Those who were successful in such quests were often regarded as having more spiritual powers. The tribe still holds Crater Lake in high regard as a spiritual site.[16][17]

Panoramic view of Crater Lake, with a portion of the original mountain's surface profile seen at left

See also

Wizard Island in the lake


  1. ^ a b c "Facts about Crater Lake". Oregon Explorer. Oregon State University. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  2. ^ "Crater Lake". Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  3. ^ Tilden, Freeman (1968). The National Parks. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 
  4. ^ Runkel, H.J., "Crater Lake Discovery Centennial," Nature Notes from Crater Lake National Park, Vol. XIX (1953).
  5. ^ Kartchnerand, W.E. & Doerr, J.E., Jr., "Wind Currents In Crater Lake As Revealed By The Old Man Of The Lake," Nature Notes from Crater Lake National Park, Vol. XI, No. 3 (September 1938).
  6. ^ "The Fish of Crater Lake". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  7. ^ Goetze, Janet (August 26, 2002). "Crater Lake plates aglow with color". The Oregonian, p. B4.
  8. ^ "The Oregon Quarter: The United States Mint". U.S. Department of the Treasury. Retrieved 2007-06-29. 
  9. ^ U.S. National Park Service. "Crater Lake National Park – Directions". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  10. ^ Gibbons, Helen (September, 2000). "CMG Maps Bottom of Crater Lake, Oregon". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  11. ^ Juillerat, Lee. "Into the Deep: Crater Lake's ranking as one of the world's deepest lakes varies by how list is determined", Klamath Falls Herald and News, November 29, 2007. Retrieved on December 20, 2007.
  12. ^ Charles R. Bacon, James V. Gardner, Larry A. Mayer, Mark W. Buktenica, Peter Dartnell, David W. Ramsey, Joel E. Robinson (2002) Morphology, volcanism, and mass wasting in Crater Lake, Oregon, Geological Society of America Bulletin v. 114, p. 675-692.
  13. ^ Manuel Nathenson, Charles R. Bacon, and David w. Ramsey,(2007) Subaqueous geology and a filling model for Crater Lake, Oregon, Hydrobiologia v. 574, p. 13-27.
  14. ^ "Geologic History of Crater Lake". Oregon Explorer. Oregon State University. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  15. ^ "Facts and Figures about Crater Lake". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  16. ^ "Park History". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  17. ^ "Crater Lake as Sacred Site". Sacred Destinations. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 


  • Fire Mountains of the West: The Cascade and Mono Lake Volcanoes, Stephen L. Harris, (Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula; 1988) ISBN 0-87842-220-X
  • Geology of National Parks: Fifth Edition, Ann G. Harris, Esther Tuttle, Sherwood D., Tuttle (Iowa, Kendall/Hunt Publishing; 1997) ISBN 0-7872-5353-7
  • Eruptive history and geochronology of Mount Mazama and the Crater Lake region, Oregon, Charles R. Bacon and Marvin A. Lanphere, Geological Society of American Bulletin v. 118, p. 1331–1359 (2006) DOI: 10.1130/B25906.1

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Crater Lake — mit Wizard Island im Vordergrund und Mount Scott links im Hintergrund Daten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Crater Lake — Vue aérienne du Crater Lake Localisation Coordonnées …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Crater Lake —   [ kreɪtə leɪk], Kratersee in der Cascade Range, im südwestlichen Oregon, USA, 1 880 m über dem Meeresspiegel, 50 km2, 589 m tief; durch Explosion des pleistozänen Vulkans Mount Mazama entstanden (Durchmesser der Caldera 10 km). Im Inneren des… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Crater lake — This article is about the geological feature. For the lake of the same name in Oregon, see Crater Lake. For other uses, see Crater Lake (disambiguation). Landsat image of Lake Toba, the largest volcanic crater lake in the world …   Wikipedia

  • Crater Lake — a lake in the crater of an extinct volcano in SW Oregon, in Crater Lake National Park. 20 sq. mi. (52 sq. km); 1996 ft. (608 m) deep. * * * Lake, Cascade Range, southwestern Oregon, U.S. The lake is in a huge volcanic caldera 6 mi (10 km) in… …   Universalium

  • crater lake — a body of water occupying a roughly circular, steep sided volcanic crater or caldera. [1875 80] * * * Lake, Cascade Range, southwestern Oregon, U.S. The lake is in a huge volcanic caldera 6 mi (10 km) in diameter and 1,932 ft (589 m) deep. It is… …   Universalium

  • Crater Lake — a lake in the crater of an extinct volcano in SW Oregon, in Crater Lake National Park. 20 sq. mi. (52 sq. km); 1996 ft. (608 m) deep …   Useful english dictionary

  • Crater Lake — geographical name lake 1932 feet (589 meters) deep SW Oregon in Cascade Range at altitude of 6164 feet (1879 meters); main feature of Crater Lake National Park …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Crater Lake — Cra′ter Lake′ n. geg a lake in the crater of an extinct volcano in SW Oregon. 1932 ft. (589 m) deep …   From formal English to slang

  • crater lake — a body of water occupying a roughly circular, steep sided volcanic crater or caldera. [1875 80] …   Useful english dictionary

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