|SIZE, DEPTH, WATERSHED, WATER QUALITY,
Lake Superior is, by surface area, the world's
largest freshwater lake.
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
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.
Lake Superior contains 10% of all the earth's
fresh surface water.
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.
The deepest point in Lake Superior (about 40
miles north of Munising, Michigan) is 1,300
feet (400 meters) below the surface.
Over 300 streams and rivers empty into Lake
The average elevation of Lake Superior is
about 602 feet above sea level.
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.
The Lake Superior shoreline, if straightened
out, could connect Duluth and the Bahama
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 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 phenomena 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.
AND FAUNA, CLIMATE, etc.
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 years old.
orchid species are native to the Lake Superior
basin. In North America, only Florida
has more native orchid species.
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 places.
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.
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.
Within its borders, Lake Superior has both the
thickest, and nearly the thinnest, crust found
anywhere in North America.
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.
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
Some of the world's oldest rocks, about 2.7
billion years of age, can be found on the
Ontario shore of Lake Superior.
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 2014.
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
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 basin.
15. Lake Superior is home to 88 species
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basin land use map
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