Environment

The Oldest Lakes in the World

The oldest lake in the world is a title often held by the ancient lake of Lake Zaysan or the ancient lake of Lake Baikal.

Geologists, researchers, and scientist all agree that some lakes have been around for millions of years. These special lakes are discussed in the article below.

The Oldest Lakes in the World

Lake Zaysan

Lake Zaysan, in eastern Kazakhstan, is thought to have been formed during the Cretaceous Period which is about 65 million years ago. It is the oldest lake in the world, although its exact age is shrouded in controversy and cannot be ascertained. The fresh water lake covers an area of about 700 mi² and is located between the Tarbagatai Mountains and Altai mountains. Between November to the end of April, the lake is frozen.

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal in southern Siberia was formed 25 million ago. Unlike Lake Zaysan, researchers are more unanimous on its age, and it is commonly referred to as the oldest lake in the world. The fresh water lake covers an area of about 12,248 sq mi and is the largest fresh water lake in the world. It has an average depth of 2,442 ft and holds 23% of the earth’s fresh surface water.

Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika, in east Africa, is the world's second largest fresh water lake by volume. It formed about 9 million years ago. It covers an area of about 12,700 square mi and has an average depth of 1,870 ft, making it the deepest lake in Africa. It holds about 4,500 cu mi of water which is equivalent to about 16% of the earth's surface water.

Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea, located between Europe and Asia, is the largest lake on earth with an area of about 143,200 sq mi. It holds 18,800 cu mi of water. It has a saline level of 12 g/l which is a third of the sea water. It has existed for about 5.5 million years.

Lake Biwa

Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture is the largest lake in Japan with a surface area of 258.8 sq mi. It has a maximum depth of 341ft and holds 6.6 cu mi of water. The lake has existed for the past 4 million years, making it the oldest lake in Japan and the oldest lake that is fully enclosed in Asia.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid, located on the border between eastern Albania and southwestern Macedonia, has existed for the past 3 million years. It covers a surface area of 150 sq mi and has an average depth of 509 ft. It is the deepest lake of the Balkans and holds about 13.31 cu mi.

Lake Lanao

Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur province, Philippines has been in existence for the past 2 million years. It covers an area of approximately 120 sqm and is the second largest lake in the Philippines after Laguna de Bay.

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi in Africa has been in existence for the past 40,000 years. It is the ninth largest lake in the world with a surface area of about 11,400 sqm and an average depth of 958 ft. The lake holds 2,000 cu mi of water.

The importance of Ancient Lakes.

Scientists study ancient lakes to ascertain the mechanisms of environmental changes over time. These lakes preserve history including the adaptive radiation and sexual selection of organisms that provide uncontaminated data due to their geographic isolation.

The Oldest Lakes in the World

RankLakeLocationEstimated Age (Thousands of Years)
1Lake Zaysan Kazakhstan65000
2Lake BaikalSiberia25000
3Lake TanganyikaEast Africa9000
4Caspian SeaEurasia5500
5Lake BiwaJapan4000
6Lake OhridBalkans3000
7Lake LanaoPhilippines2000
8Lake MalawiEast Africa40

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