Great Lakes (North America). Lake names

On the North American continent there is a beautiful corner of nature, known as the Great Lakes. The basin of these reservoirs is considered one of the largest drainage systems on our planet. It occupies a rather impressive territory - 768 thousand km ². It contains almost 18% of the world's total freshwater supply! Information on where the Great Lakes are located, their origin and description can be found in this article.

History of

Scientists believe that about 12 thousand years ago on the site of North America was an icy desert. The origin of the Great Lakes is associated with the formation of tectonic depressions, which were subsequently plowed out and deepened by a giant glacier, slowly moving from north to south. Huge masses of ice crushed the soil, consisting mainly of soft sandstone and shale. They easily crashed mountains and moved huge boulders from their places, as a result of which even deeper depressions and moraines were formed.Thus, wide trenches were formed, which after the melting of glaciers gradually filled with water.

General information

This largest catchment is located in North America, in the St. Lawrence River Basin, on the border of two states - the United States and Canada. The Great Lakes are a group of the five largest bodies of water, including the Upper, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario. The total length of their coastline is about 18 thousand km. They contain more than 22 thousand km³ of water, and their surface area is 245.3 thousand km². Lake Michigan is located in the United States. As for the rest of the reservoirs and the rivers connecting them, the border with Canada passes along them.

The system of the Great Lakes itself is special, as it is located in the form of steps. The difference in height of accommodation of the Upper, Huron, Michigan and Erie is not more than 9 m. But as for the lake. Ontario, it is lower than by almost 100 m in comparison with the others. All the above-mentioned water bodies are interconnected by small, but rather full-flowing rivers. Thus, the Upper with Huron communicate through the St. Marys River with a length of 112 km, and Ontario and Erie through the Niagara, forming the eponymous world-famous waterfall, whose height is about 50 m.In addition, Huron connects with Erie 43-kilometer St. Clair, and with Lake Michigan - Makino Strait, whose width is not less than 3 km.

Great Lakes on the map

The proximity of settlements

The Great Lakes (clearly visible on the map) are replenished by several hundred small rivers, and runoff is carried along the St. Lawrence River, flowing from Ontario directly into the Atlantic Ocean. These waters have very low mineralization - in total up to 0.13 g / l. The system of these lakes contains about 170 different species of fish, including salmon, perch, trout, carp, whitefish, and many others.

It must be said that the Great Lakes region in the southern and southeastern part is adjacent to very densely populated and industrially developed, and from the west and north to the agrarian-raw territories of Canada and the United States. For example, in the United States on the shores of Michigan are the two largest cities - Milwaukee and Chicago, near Erie - Cleveland and Buffalo, and near Ontario - Canadian Toronto. In addition, the lakes communicate with the Mississippi Basin through a whole system of navigable canals.


The largest freshwater reservoir in North America is Lake Superior.In terms of the amount of fresh water, this giant ranks third after the Russian Baikal and the African Tanganyika. The average depth of the largest American lake is 147, and the maximum - 406 meters. It contains more than 11 thousand km³ of water.

The northern shore of Lake Superior is in the province of Ontario (Canada). The rest of the coast is located in the United States. From the western part of it stretches the land of Minnesota, from the south - Michigan, and from the south-west - Wisconsin. The total length of the coastline - 4387 km. The width of this freshwater giant reaches 260, and its length is 560 km. This reservoir is located at an altitude of 182 m above sea level.

Great Lakes

It is worth noting that the shoreline of Lake Superior is pretty much indented with numerous bays and bays. The southern coast has a flat landscape and beaches covered with sand. This picturesque place was chosen by the inhabitants of the North American continent, who are eager to come here with their families to rest. As for the northern coast, it consists entirely of rocks and cliffs.

All the Great American Lakes are fed by a large number of medium and small rivers.For example, approximately two hundred falls into the Upper, and the largest - r. Nipigon In addition, the lake has its own islands. The largest of them - Isle Royal, whose length is 72, and width - 14 km. Now on the territory of this island there is a national park, connected with the mainland by ferries constantly plying there and back.


For some time, some geographers have been trying to combine this lake with the third largest reservoir, Michigan. Such attempts are due to the fact that they are on the same level. These rather impressive water masses are very similar to two communicating vessels with similar characteristics. Huron - the second largest body of water, which is part of the Great Lakes. It covers an area of ​​nearly 6 thousand km ². With regards to the volume of fresh water, it is inferior to Lake Michigan and is 3,538 thousand km³. Huron is located 177 m above sea level.

Great American Lakes

The average depth of the lake does not exceed 60, and the maximum reaches the level of 230 m. Its coastline is 6.157 thousand km, while the length is 332, and its width is 295 km. In the northern part of the Huron is a large island called Manitulin. It is considered the largest of all that are located in freshwater. Its area is 2,766 thousand km ². In addition, people live on it.The population of this island is about 13 thousand people.

Great lakes of North America have always been famous for a large number of rare species of fish. Over time, they began to breed in other freshwater reservoirs around the world. Take at least lake trout. She lives at a depth of 20 to 60 m. Unfortunately, in the mid-1950s, this type of fish was almost completely destroyed. And it's not only about her overfishing, but also about the appearance of the lamprey in the waters of Huron, which came here as a result of the opening of a new channel in 1925.

This lake is extremely famous primarily for the fact that there were frequent storms and storms, after which numerous ship graveyards were formed. Judge for yourself, from the beginning of the XVIII century its waters swallowed up more than one thousand ships! According to the documents, the first shipwreck was the Griffin. His downfall occurred in September 1679. He came with a big load of fur. But the most widely known event is the Great Storm that occurred on the Great Lakes in 1913. It was a real hurricane that ravaged the area for four days. It was Huron who suffered most from this element.In its waters, the elements found 36 ships, most of them were cast ashore, but 10 ships sank along with the crews. The victims of the Great Storm were 235 sailors.

Great Lakes of North America

On Lake Huron there is a small Saginai Bay located in the southwestern part of the reservoir. Here at the bottom rests 185 wrecks. Another large shipyard cemetery is located near the island of Manitoulin. 212 vessels were buried there. Almost all of them were trucks that transported furs, grain or other goods, so the damage from their crashes amounted to more than one million dollars.


This lake is the third largest freshwater reservoir and, unlike its counterparts, is located entirely in the United States. As mentioned above, all the Great Lakes of North America are located in steps. This reservoir is located, as well as Huron, 177 m above sea level. Its average depth is 85, and the maximum - 281 m. Lake Michigan is about 58 thousand km ². The length of its coastline is 2636, its width is 190, and its length is 494 km. The largest island of Lake Michigan is Beaver. Its length is 21, and its width is 10 km. It enters the archipelago of the same name with many smaller islands.

Four states are adjacent to this reservoir: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana. About 12 million people live along the entire coastline. The largest coastal cities are Milwaukee and Chicago. Lake Michigan in the summer is very popular with holidaymakers. It is famous for its beaches with clean, soft and slightly creaking sand. Such a feature is due to the high quartz content. In addition, sand dunes are observed on the Michigan coast. As for the local water temperature, it remains warm even at the end of summer.

Chicago Lake Michigan

From the north, the lake shores are often covered with whole colonies of stones of coral origin. Often, their surface is covered with rather original and peculiar patterns, which distinguishes these natural formations from the well-known ordinary pebbles. Almost the entire eastern coast of Lake Michigan is covered with cliffs, while the southern coast is covered with dunes. This feature can be explained by the predominance of westerly winds in these places. It is they who in winter contribute to the formation of a rather impressive layer of ice on the surface of the lake.


This is the fourth largest body of water, one of the five Great Lakes. It covers an area of ​​25.7 thousand km². Eri stretched for 388 km, and its width is a little over 90 km. This is the smallest body of water, with an average depth of only 64 m. This lake is located in three American states - Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as in the province of Ontario (Canada). Numerous islands are located in its southwestern part. On the coast of Erie there are several large cities, such as Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo and others.

As you know, the Great American Lakes, together and separately, are unique corners of nature. Erie was no exception. The climate here is really unusual. This is the so-called snow effect. It occurs due to the circulation of cold air masses in the winter months over warm lake water. Reaching Buffalo, he literally throws a huge amount of snow on the city. The snow effect is a short-term phenomenon that disappears when Erie freezes.

Where are the Great Lakes


Its area is 19.5 thousand km ². It is the least of the Great Lakes. Its average depth is 86, and the maximum - 244 m.Despite its relatively small size, Ontario is the most important traffic artery of both Canada and the United States. Due to its great depth, this lake never completely freezes, so the ships here run all year round.

Since Ontario is located below all the Great Lakes, i.e., only 75 m above sea level, a large number of locks, which have a limited width, were equipped for convenient navigation. This could lead to a significant reduction in freight volume. To prevent this from happening, so-called lake trucks were developed, representing the largest river vessels in the world, reaching a length of up to three hundred meters.

Ontario, like all the Great Lakes listed above, has a special climate. The local conditions contribute to the successful development of agriculture, as the spring flowering of plants is delayed here, as well as ripe fruits, such as peaches, plums, apples and cherries, are preserved until late autumn. Even on this coast grapes grow very well, from which they make a delicious and fragrant drink.

The Lesser of the Great Lakes


The large-scale and reckless use of these unique reservoirs in the USA and Canada could not but lead to rather serious socio-economic and environmental problems, and above all to the pollution of not only surface, but also groundwater.

Especially perniciously on the Great Lakes was influenced by the intensively developing after World War II economy of the United States. It was at that time that the unprecedented growth of American industry began. Industrial, domestic and other effluents without any purification poured into these water bodies. The result of such actions was a sharp decrease in the oxygen content, and as a result, the massive death of fish.

By that time, the use and further discharge of toxic chlorine-containing components and synthetic fertilizers led to their entry into food products. By the end of the 60s of the last century, about 40% of all water systems in the United States became unsuitable for both fishing and bathing due to extreme pollution. Moreover, rather large volumes of toxic liquids fell precisely in the Great Lakes.The United States has thus become the main cause of the environmental disaster in the area.

By the way, already in the 70s of the last century, Lake Erie, due to intensive discharges of the chemical industry, turned out to be almost "dead." All this happened through the fault of enterprises that did not pay enough attention to high-quality wastewater treatment. As a result, the waters of Lake Erie were oversaturated with phosphorus, causing excessive algal blooms, and as a result - a significant reduction in fish populations.

Ecological situation

Once upon a time many different animals lived on the coasts of the largest freshwater lakes of the North American continent, and their waters literally swarmed with various kinds of fish. James Fenimore Cooper wrote in great detail and fascinatingly in the not-so-distant past in his works “St. John's Wort” and “Pathfinder, or On the shores of Ontario”. Since then, the herds of noble wild deer have disappeared, overgrown with dense deciduous forests, and with them the Indian tribes. The American lakes themselves have become an ecologically unfavorable zone.

Despite the fact that the governments of the United States and Canada are making great efforts to protect the natural wealth of the Great Lakes, this does not bring any significant changes for the better.As long as various enterprises of the metallurgical, chemical and petroleum refining industry will exist near this water system, they will inevitably destroy the ecosystem of these unique reservoirs.

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