|SIZE, DEPTH, WATERSHED, WATER QUALITY,
1. Lake Superior is, by surface area,
the world's largest freshwater lake.
2. The surface area of Lake Superior
(31,700 square miles or 82,170 square
kilometers) is greater than the combined areas
of Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
Connecticut, and New Hampshire.
3. Lake Superior contains as much water
as all the other Great Lakes combined, even
throwing in two extra Lake Eries. Its
volume is second only to Russia's Lake Baikal.
4. Lake Superior contains 10% of all the
earth's fresh surface water.
5. There is enough water in Lake
Superior (3,000,000,000,000,000--or 3
quadrillion-- gallons) to flood all of North
and South America to a depth of one foot.
6. The deepest point in Lake Superior
(about 40 miles north of Munising, Michigan)
is 1,300 feet (400 meters) below the surface.
7. Over 300 streams and rivers empty
into Lake Superior.
8, The average elevation of Lake
Superior is about 602 feet above sea level.
9. The Lake Superior watershed
region ranges in size from 160 miles inland
near Wabakimi Provincial Park to only 5 miles
inland from Pictured Rocks National Seashore.
10. The Lake Superior shoreline, if
straightened out, could connect Duluth and the
11. The average underwater visibility of
Lake Superior is 27 feet, making it easily the
cleanest and clearest of the Great
Lakes. Underwater visibility in places
reaches 100 feet. Lake Superior has been
described as "the most oligotrophic lake in
12. The lake is about
350 miles (563 km) in length and 160 miles
(257 km) in width.
13. In the
summer, the sun sets more than 35 minutes later
on the western shore of Lake Superior than at
its southeastern edge.
14. Lake Superior has over 400 islands,
the largest of which is Isle Royale, with a size
of 207 square miles.
15. Waves of over 40 feet in height have
been recorded on Lake Superior.
16. Travel by car around Lake Superior
covers a distance of about 1,300 miles.
17. The largest underwater formation in
Lake Superior is the Superior Shoal, which rises
from a depth of over 1,000 feet to within 20
feet of the water surface over a distance of
just three miles.
18. Sudden changes in winds or barometric
pressure around Lake Superior can produce
seiches, a phenomenon which results in water
levels rising or falling as much as six feet
along a coast in a short period of time.
19. Water in Lake Superior is retained, on
average, 191 years.
GEOLOGY, FLORA AND FAUNA, CLIMATE, etc.
1. Lake Superior is one of the earth's
youngest major features, at only about 10,000
years of age--dating to the last glacial
retreat. By comparison, the earth's second
largest lake (by surface area, and largest by
volume), Lake Baikal in Russia, is 25 million
2. Fifty-eight orchid species are native
to the Lake Superior basin. In North
America, only Florida has more native orchid
3. Lake Superior produces the greatest
lake effect snows on earth. (Significant
lake effect snows are a rare phenomenon,
occurring--besides on the Great Lakes--only on
the east shore of Hudson Bay and the west coasts
of two Japanese islands.) Lake effect
snows extend 20 to 30 miles inland, primarily on
the Ontario shore southeast of Marathon, and
from Sault Ste. Marie to the Wisconsin-Michigan
border. Average annual snowfall in
Michigan's Keweenaw exceeds 200 inches in
4. Lake Superior has been at its modern
elevation for only about 2,000 years, when
elevations of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron
dropped, creating a rapids at Sault Ste. Marie.
5. Lake Superior has its origins in the
North American Mid-Continent Rift of 1.1 to 1.2
billion years ago, which produced a huge plume
of hot mantle where the present lake sits.
The crust tore apart, leaving an arc-shaped scar
stretching form Kansas through Minnesota, then
down to Michigan.
6. Within its borders, Lake Superior has
both the thickest, and nearly the thinnest,
crust found anywhere in North America.
7. When European explorers visited Lake
Superior in the 1600s they reported giant
sturgeons (up to nine feet in length) and
pike of greater than seven feet in length.
8. The largest tributary of Lake Superior,
Ontario's Nipigon River, was in the 1800s the
finest brook trout water in the world. It
produced the world record brook trout of 14.5
9. Some of the world's oldest rocks, about
2.7 billion years of age, can be found on the
Ontario shore of Lake Superior.
10. The average annual
water temperature of Lake Superior is 40º
F. It only very rarely freezes over
completely, and then usually just for
hours. The last complete freezing of
Lake Superior occurred in 1979, although the
lake was almost completely frozen over in
11. Migrating birds of prey funnel
down Lake Superior's north shore in great
numbers each fall. On a single day at
Duluth's Hawk Ridge as many as 100,000 birds
of prey might pass by.
12. Lake Superior rests mostly on
Precambrian rock at the southern edge of the
Canadian shield, the largest exposure of
such bedrock on the planet.
13. Sliver Islet, a Lake Superior
island off Ontario's north shore, was the
site for 15 years in the 1800s of the
world's richest silver mine.
14. Lake Superior contains nearly 70
million diporeia (shrimplike creatures) with
a total biomass greater than that of the
human population in the entire Lake Superior
15. Lake Superior is home to 88
species of fish.
and provincial parks
wildlife & flora
basin land use map
lake superior photos
lawren harris art