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The Great Lakes By Depth

The Great Lakes are one of the greatest riches of the United States. They spread across the border with Canada and throughout 8 states. They are made of 5 lakes, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Huron and Superior. All together they represent the biggest formation of freshwater on Earth and their volume contains 21 percent of the world’s total surface fresh water. Lake Superior is the second largest lake in the world, while Michigan is the largest lake on the territory of one country. Lake Erie is the warmest and shallowest, while Lake Huron has the longest shoreline. The Great Lakes are the main transition, transportation, and trade routes in the area. They are also connected with the Atlantic Ocean by the St Lawrence River.

There are 35,000 islands in the Great Lakes and its water is a home to over 260 different species of fish. The water from the lakes are good for drinking too, supplying over 40 million people every day. For decades now the Great Lakes were the main economic engine to the Midwest region of the United States, bringing around 15 percent of American GDP. Almost 80 percent of the lake’s shoreline is privately owned and not accessible to the public.


Lake Superior is shared by the United States and Canada. It is considered the largest lake in the world by area and the third largest by volume. It spreads over 31,700 square miles with a maximum length of 350 statute miles and breadth of 160 statute miles. Its maximum depth is 1,333 feet, while the average depth is around 480 feet. The temperature of the lake varies over the seasons, but at a depth of 660 feet it is constantly around 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds, combined with the current, create waves during the entire year. Occasionally, thunderstorms can make waves up to 30 feet in height. Over 200 rivers feed Lake Superior. It drains into Lake Huron via St Mary’s River and Soo Locks, which were built to help ships overcome height difference of 25 feet between Superior and Huron.


Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes which is not shared with Canada. It is the third largest of the five lakes by the surface area and the second largest by volume. Some people consider Lake Michigan and Lake Huron one lake because the Straits of Mackinac connect the two lakes and gives the appearance of one, single water surface. Its 22,400 square miles puts it to the fifth position of largest lakes in the world with 307 miles length and 118 breadth. The average depth of the lake is 279 feet while the deepest bottom lays on 923 feet. Lake Michigan is well known for its clear water with an average temperature around 67 degrees Fahrenheit.


Covering the area of 23,000 square miles, Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes. On the bigger picture, Huron is a third largest lake in the world both in surface area and volume. Length of the lake is 206 statute miles while its 183 statute miles breadth makes it widest of all Great Lakes. Maximum depth of the lakes is around 750 feet while the average depth is 195 feet. The average temperature of the water is around 54 degrees Fahrenheit, but during the summer it can go up to 75 degrees. Lake Huron is fed by the water from Lake Superior through the St Mary’s River, water then flows south through the St Clair River.


The fourth largest out of the five Great lakes, Erie is also the shallowest and the smallest in volume. In terms of surface area, Erie takes thirteenth place in the world. Niagara River is its biggest natural outflow, providing a huge amount of hydroelectric power to both the United States and Canada. Over the decades, Lake Erie has experienced many environmental problems due to its size, with the main issues being pollution and overfishing. The lake covers the surface of 9,990 square miles with a maximum depth of 210 feet. Since Erie is the shallowest, its waters stay the warmest with an average temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Thanks to its low depth, Lake Erie is the first of the Great Lakes to freeze during the winter and is the easiest to be stirred by waves.


The smallest lake of all the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario covers 7,340 square miles and has a maximum length of 193 statute miles and a width of 53 statute miles. The deepest point of Ontario Lake is 802 feet while the average depth is 284 feet. The primary water supply to Lake Ontario comes from Lake Erie through Niagara River, while its main outlet is the St. Lawrence River. Just like Lake Erie, Ontario has also been affected with negative overfishing and water pollution. The average temperature of the lake is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The Great Lakes are a series of interconnected lakes along the Canada–US border consisting of Lake Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario. They connect to the North Atlantic through the Saint Lawrence River and jointly form the Great Lakes Waterway. The Great Lakes are the second largest freshwater lakes in the world after Lake Baikal and account for 21% of the surface freshwater. They are also the largest freshwater lake by area extending over 94,250 square miles. The Great Lakes experience sea-like characteristics such as strong currents, distant horizon, great depth, sustained winds and rolling waves, and are sometimes known as inland seas. Lake Michigan is the only lake that is not shared by both countries as it lies entirely within the borders of the United States.

The Great Lakes By Depth

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes with an area of 31,700 square miles which is about the size of Austria or South Carolina. The lake’s average depth is 483 feet while its deepest point is 1,333 ft. Lake Superior holds 2,900 cubic miles of water which is enough to cover South and North America to a depth of 12 inches. Jeffrey Val Klump was the first person to reach the deepest point of the lake on July 30, 1985.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes with an area of about 7,340 square miles. It is also the fourth smallest in volume after Lake Erie with a capacity of about 393 cubic miles. As the easternmost of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario has the lowest elevation of 243 feet above the sea level and 326 ft lower than Lake Erie. Its average depth of is 283 feet while its deepest point is 802 feet.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is located entirely within the US. It is the second largest by volume with 1,180 cubic miles of water and the third largest by area covering an estimated 22,404 square miles. Lake Michigan connects to Lake Huron through the Straits of Mackinac, and in some occasions, the pair are considered one lake. The average depth of Lake Michigan is 279 ft while its deepest point is 923 ft.

Lake Huron

Lake Huron forms the Eastern portion of Lake Michigan-Huron. It covers about 23,007 square miles and holds 850 cubic miles of water. The average depth of Lake Huron is 195 feet while its deepest point is 750 ft.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the Great Lakes with an area of 9,910 square miles and the smallest by volume with 116 cubic miles of water. The lake has a mean elevation of 571 feet above the sea level, a length of 209 nautical miles and a breadth of 50 nautical miles at its widest. It is the shallowest of the Great Lakes with an average depth of 62 feet and a maximum depth of 210 feet. The lake is warmer compared to the other lakes because of its shallow depth and continues to pose a problem for the two nuclear power plants that require cold water to cool the reactors.

The Great Lakes Basin

The Great Lakes basin encompasses both the United States and Canada. The basin accounts for about 25% of agricultural production in Canada and 7% in the United States while serving 10% of the American population and 30% of the Canadian population. The Great Lakes Waterway is a faster and more effective way of transporting bulky goods from the interior to the Atlantic and across both countries, but environmental concerns have been raised over the continued pollution of the lakes and the destruction of the catchment areas.

The Great Lakes By Depth

RankGreat LakeAverage Depth (Feet)


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