What Are The Primary Inflows And Outflows Of The Great Slave Lake?

Aerial view of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.

Located in Canada's Northwest Territories, the Great Slave Lake is the deepest lake in North America, reaching a maximum depth of 614 meters. It is also the world’s tenth largest lake by surface area, covering a total of 27,200 square km. 

Primary Inflows of the Great Slave Lake

The Slave, Taltson, Hay, and Lockhart rives are the primary tributaries or inflows of the Great Slave Lake. Other rivers including the Snare, Marian, Yellowknife, and Stark also empty their waters into the lake.

Slave River

The Slave River rises at the confluence of the Peace River and Rivière des Rochers in Alberta, Canada. It then flows north and enters the Northwest Territories, where it empties into the Great Slave Lake near the community of Fort Resolution.

Hay River

The Hay River rises in the muskeg of northwest Alberta, flows west into British Columbia, and then turn northward back towards Alberta. After flowing through parts of Alberta, the river enters the Northwest Territories and ultimately empties into the Great Slave Lake after flowing through the town of Hay River.

Lockhart River

The Lockhart River begins at Mackay Lake in the Northwest Territories and then flows east through various lakes before finally entering the Great Slave Lake. The river flows through several rapids and waterfalls prior to emptying into the lake.

Talston River

The Taltson River begins near a series of lakes in the Northwest Territories and then flows through a series of lakes, rapids, and waterfalls before ultimately emptying the Great Slave Lake.

Primary Outflow of the Great Slave Lake

The Mackenzie River is the main outflow that drains the Great Slave Lake. It is the second-longest river system in North America, and ranks second after the Mississippi River in terms of drainage basin size. The main stem of the Mackenzie rises from the western end of the Great Slave Lake, about 93 miles southwest of Yellowknife, which is the capital of Northwest Territories.

Importance of the Great Slave Lake

The Great Slave Lake contains numerous species of flora and fauna. Additionally, several communities in the Northwest Territories are located along its shores, such as Yellowknife, Fort Resolution, Hay River, Dettah, and Ndilǫ, and many include indigenous populations. Fishing is an important economic activity on the Great Slave Lake, and a large nesting site of whooping cranes is located south of the lake.


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