[7], American limnologist J. Val Klump was the first person to reach the lowest depth of Lake Superior on July 30, 1985, as part of a scientific expedition, which at 122 fathoms 1 foot (733 ft or 223 m) below sea level is the second-lowest spot in the continental interior of the United States and the third-lowest spot in the interior of the North American continent after Iliamna Lake in Alaska (942 feet [287 m] below sea level) and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada at (1,503 feet [458 m] below sea level). SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the latest ship to sink in Lake Superior, 15 nautical miles (28 km; 17 mi) from Whitefish Point in a storm on November 10, 1975. They soon became the dominant Native American nation in the region: they forced out the Sioux and Fox and won a victory against the Iroquois west of Sault Ste. There are rapids at the river's upper (Lake Superior) end, where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient. The Objibways said that the lake was protected by Nanabijou, Spirit of the Deep Sea Water, according to the University of Wisconsin. How deep is Lake Superior? The regulating structure is known as the Compensating Works and is operated according to a regulation plan known as Plan 1977-A. With 78 crewmembers dead, their sinking marked the largest loss of life on Lake Superior to date. Lake Superior has been an important link in the Great Lakes Waterway, providing a route for the transportation of iron ore as well as grain and other mined and manufactured materials. Wreckage of SS Cyprus—a 420-foot (130 m) ore carrier that sank on October 11, 1907, during a Lake Superior storm in 77 fathoms (460 ft or 140 m) of water—was located in August 2007. The lake was also called Lac Tracy (for Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy) by 17th century Jesuit missionaries. Lava erupted from the rift and formed the black basalt rock of Michipicoten Island, Black Bay Peninsula, and St. Ignace Island. Basin depth is 8-foot minimum entry and main basin: 5-foot depth at dock and ramp ends. The Lake Superior region is also home to many common native plant species, including Michigan's state tree, the white pine, and Flowering Rush, an aquatic plant that grows along the shoreline. But Lake Superior's water is cold enough year-round to inhibit bacterial growth, and bodies tend to sink and never resurface. New York, Underwater visibility in some spots reaches 30 meters. [46], More than 80 species of fish have been found in Lake Superior. It may relate to anthropogenic alternations to the regional nitrogen cycle, but researchers are still unsure of the causes of this change to the lake's ecology. Receive news and offers from our other brands? The average water temperature is 40 F (4.4 C) — lower than the other Great Lakes, which are farther south. During most winters the lake is 40 to 95 percent covered with ice. The Objibways said that the lake was protected by Nanabijou, Spirit of the Deep Sea Water, according to the University of Wisconsin. In the most recent geological history, during the Wisconsin glaciation 10,000 years ago, ice covered the region at a thickness of 1.25 miles (2 km). By the early 1600s, the Ojibway people had established a village of several thousand on Madeline Island. The deepest point in Lake Superior is 1,300 feet (400 meters) below the surface, making a complete freeze a … [49], As for other Great Lakes fish, populations have also been affected by the accidental or intentional introduction of foreign species such as the sea lamprey and Eurasian ruffe. The wreck was immortalized by Gordon Lightfoot in his ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". [23] The winter of 1986 set new high-water records through the winter and spring months (January to June), ranging from 1.33 feet (0.41 m) to 1.833 feet (0.559 m) above Chart Datum. But by 1821, with competition harming the profits of both, the companies merged under the Hudson's Bay Company name. It has an Average Depth of 483 ft (147 m) deep. Clear water laps the shore at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Storms that claimed multiple ships include the Mataafa Storm in 1905 and the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. The average underwater visibility of Lake Superior is about 8 metres or 27 feet, making it the cleanest and clearest of the Great Lakes. The first people came to the Lake Superior region 10,000 years ago after the retreat of the glaciers in the last Ice Age. above Lake Huron). [30] The water surface's slow reaction to temperature changes, seasonally ranging between 32 and 55 Â°F (0–13 Â°C) around 1970,[31] helps to moderate surrounding air temperatures in the summer (cooler with frequent sea breeze formations) and winter, and creates lake effect snow in colder months. [17][18], Annual storms on Lake Superior regularly feature wave heights of over 20 feet (6 m). You will receive a verification email shortly. Michiganders sure are lucky to live amongst so much beauty. How deep is Lake Superior? The lake holds 3 quadrillion gallons of fresh water. Lake Superior is so large and so deep that its retention time – about how long an average drop of water remains in the Lake – is 191 years. The water temperatures during the summer months average about 55 F, but surface temperatures reached a record 68.7 F (20.4 C) in August 2010 and are affected by the amount of surface ice during the previous winter. Among the scenic places on the lake are Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Brockway Mountain Drive on the Keweenaw Peninsula, Isle Royale National Park, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Pukaskwa National Park, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Grand Island National Recreation Area, Sleeping Giant (Ontario) and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Another culture known as the Terminal Woodland Indians (c. AD 900–1650) has been found. Lake Superior has an average underwater visibility of 27 feet (8.2 meters). Many towns around the lake are current or former mining areas, or engaged in processing or shipping. [34] The lake lies in this long-extinct Mesoproterozoic rift valley, the Midcontinent Rift. They are still much lower than levels considered dangerous to human health; but this steady, long-term rise is an unusual record of environmental nitrogen buildup. This is due to their lower latitudes and large depths. The rocks of Lake Superior's northern shore date back to the early history of the earth. Because of varying depths and unpredictable weather, Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes have been prone to maritime accidents. The North West Company built forts on Lake Superior at Grand Portage, Fort William, Nipigon, the Pic River, the Michipicoten River, and Sault Ste. [37], The Anishinaabe People, which includes the Ojibwe or Chippewa, have inhabited the Lake Superior region for over five hundred years and were preceded by the Dakota, Fox, Menominee, Nipigon, Noquet and Gros Ventres. That number becomes 88 by including all fish species found in the lake, its estuaries and associated wetlands. Additional reporting by Alina Bradford, Live Science Contributor. NY 10036. With a total water surface of 82,000 sq km or 31,700 sq mi and an average depth of 147 meters or 483 feet, many sea vessels succumb to its ever-changing currents. [8] Its average depth is 80.5 fathoms (483 ft; 147 m) with a maximum depth of 222.17 fathoms (1,333 ft; 406 m). It is still an important component of the harbor facilities. In the 18th century, as the booming fur trade supplied Europe with beaver hats, the Hudson's Bay Company had a virtual monopoly in the region until 1783, when the rival North West Company was formed. There was a problem. This feature makes the lake dimictic. Lake Superior's Fish Species. All 29 crew members died and no bodies were recovered. Superior was a major mode of transportation for the fur industry and other trading activities during the Colonial period and remains a shipping hub today. The mountains steadily eroded, depositing layers of sediments that compacted and became limestone, dolomite, taconite and the shale at Kakabeka Falls. According to other sources, the full Ojibwe name is Ojibwe Gichigami ("Ojibwe's Great Sea") or Anishinaabe Gichigami ("Anishinaabe's Great Sea"). The next documented people are known as the Shield Archaic (c. 5000–500 BC). Lake whitefish live in deep waters mainly along Lake Superior's South Shore. 8. Accidental introductions have occurred in part by the removal of natural barriers to navigation between the Great Lakes. The normal high-water mark is 1.17 feet (0.36 m) above datum (601.1 ft or 183.2 m). The region surrounding the lake has proved to be rich in minerals, with copper, iron, silver, gold and nickel the most frequently mined. Lake Vostok - ~1,000 m/~3,300 ft. Vostok Lake in Antarctica is, at 3,300 feet, the fourth deepest … The Soo Locks enable ships to bypass the rapids and to overcome the 25-foot (8 m) height difference between Lakes Superior and Huron. The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior is seen in this photo of the 729-foot vessel, resting in two pieces 530 feet below the surface. During the Precambrian (between 4.5 billion and 540 million years ago) magma forcing its way to the surface created the intrusive granites of the Canadian Shield. The last time that Lake Superior almost entirely froze over was in 1979 when the lake reached 94.7% ice coverage. Lake Superior is 350 miles (563 km) long (east to west), and its greatest width is 160 miles (258 km) from north to south. The southern shores of Lake Superior boasts Pictured Rocks, a 42 mile stretch of gorgeous, multicolored sandstone cliffs with waterfalls and caves galore. [36] Without the immense weight of the ice, the land rebounded, and a drainage outlet formed at Sault Ste. Thank you for signing up to Live Science. [12], Largest of the Great Lakes of North America, International Lake Superior Board of Control, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Great Storms of the North American Great Lakes, List of shipwrecks of western Lake Superior, Great Recycling and Northern Development Canal, "Global Land One-Kilometer Base Elevation (GLOBE) v.1", "Tunnel Valleys, Glacial Surges, and Subglacial Hydrology of the Superior Lobe, Minnesota", "Great Lakes: Basic Information: Physical Facts", Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, "Superior Pursuit: Facts About the Greatest Great Lake", "Global Warming Is Shrinking the Great Lakes", "Lake Superior Warming Faster than Surrounding Climate", "Extensive Great Lakes Ice Coverage to Limit Severe Weather, Pose Challenges to Shipping Industry", "After Achieving 95 Percent Coverage, Lake Superior's Ice Breaking Up", "Environmental Climatology of Lake Superior", "NOAA Technical Memorandum ERL GLERL-29: Evaporation from Lake Superior", Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, "Ontario Amethyst: Ontario's Mineral Emblem", "Century-Old Shipwreck Discovered: Ore Carrier Went Down in Lake Superior on Its Second Voyage", "Increasing Stoichiometric Imbalance in North America's Largest Lake: Nitrification in Lake Superior", "Great Lakes Sensitivity to Climatic Forcing: Hydrological Models", "Rockin' the Rift, The Billion-Year-Old Split that Made Us", Lake Superior NOAA nautical chart #14961 online, Parks Canada - Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Superior&oldid=991606126, Articles with dead external links from February 2020, Articles with permanently dead external links, Articles with incomplete citations from February 2020, Articles using infobox body of water without alt, Articles using infobox body of water without alt bathymetry, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2013, Wikipedia articles with WorldCat-VIAF identifiers, Srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 1,729 mi (2,783 km) plus 997 mi (1,605 km) for islands, This page was last edited on 30 November 2020, at 22:54. Sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, inland lakes, deep forest, and wild shoreline beckon you to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The lake's name comes from the French word lac supérieur, which means "upper lake." The hills and mountains that border the lake hold moisture and fog, particularly in the fall. One billion years in the making, Lake Superior's majesty, tranquility, and fury are all on display in Bayfield County. Most of the Pukaskwa Pits were likely made during this time. The greatest and biggest of all the Great Lakes is Lake Superior. The lake's water level fluctuates from month to month, with the highest lake levels in October and November. Built in Lorain, Ohio, Cyprus was launched August 17, 1907, and was lost on her second voyage hauling iron ore from Superior, Wisconsin, to Buffalo, New York, with the lone survivor among her 23 crew being Charles G. [citation needed] This variation in temperature makes the lake seasonally stratigraphic. The lake's average surface elevation is 600 feet (183 m)[8][17] above sea level. It called this because it is north of Lake Huron, which was discovered first by Brûlé. Lake Superior's water level was at a new record low in September 2007, slightly less than the previous record low in 1926. The Caspian Sea, while larger than Lake Superior in both surface area and volume, is brackish; though presently isolated, prehistorically the Caspian has been repeatedly connected to and then isolated from the Mediterranean via the Black Sea. Winds and resulting waves keep Lake Michigan from freezing over, but it has been 90 percent froz… This graphic may be hard to understand at first, the y axis on the left is based on altitude above sea level. Duluth's Hawk Ridge, which is on the lake's north shore, hosts as many as 10,000 migrating birds of prey each day during the fall migration season. There is a small population of endangered whooping cranes on the lake's north shore, one of only two crane species in North America. Lightfoot sings that "The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead". Lake Baikal in southern Russia is the world's deepest lake. The shoreline measures 2,726 miles (4,385 km), according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It has a mean surface elevation of 600 feet (180 metres) above sea level and a maximum depth of 1,332 feet (406 metres). They are believed to be the direct ancestors of the Ojibwe and Cree.[37]. The Laurel people (c. 500 BC to AD 500) developed seine net fishing, evidence being found at rivers around Superior such as the Pic and Michipicoten. They used snow shoes, birch bark canoes and conical or domed lodges. In the winter of 1926 Lake Superior reached its lowest recorded level at 1.58 feet (0.48 m) below datum. The lake is about 160 miles (257 kilometers) wide and about 350 miles (563 km) long. Lake whitefish are prized for their delicate fillets and, like ciscoes, are lower on the food chain than lake trout and consequentially contain fewer bioaccumulative toxins. [23], Historic low water By To reach its deepest point, you'd need to descend 1,276 feet – about the distance of a ride down from the top floor of Chicago's 108-story Willis Tower. It was taken from the submarine Celia during a 1994 dive. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, and the third largest by volume. It takes almost 200 years for the lake to refill with new water, according to the University of Wisconsin. The southern shore of Lake Superior between Grand Marais, Michigan, and Whitefish Point is known as the "Graveyard of the Great Lakes" and more ships have been lost around the Whitefish Point area than any other part of Lake Superior. The larger cities on Lake Superior include the twin ports of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin; Thunder Bay, Ontario; Marquette, Michigan; and the twin cities of Sault Ste. The lake’s drainage basin is 49,300 square miles (127,700 square km), exclusive of its surface area of 31,700 square miles (82,100 square km). By the mid-18th century, the Ojibwe occupied all of Lake Superior's shores.[38]. In all of the five Great Lakes, Lake Superior stands as the biggest and widest lake of all. The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.[29]. It has a maximum length of 350 statute miles (560 km; 300 nmi) and maximum breadth of 160 statute miles (257 km; 139 nmi). Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: ‘Spectacularly Intact’ 1897 Shipwreck Discovered in Lake Superior, The Travel Channel: The Great Lakes Video, EPA: Physical Features of the Great Lakes, The best Lego sets for alien, sci-fi, space fans and more, 20 of the worst epidemics and pandemics in history, Catch the full moon (and a penumbral eclipse) on Monday, Adorable monkeys caught commiting grisly act of cannibalism, Megalodon nurseries reveal world’s largest shark had a soft side. The numbers for the world’s largest … The lake's lowest levels occur in March and April.
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