37 Impressive Lake Baikal Facts

Lake Baikal: facts about the most magical lake on the planet .

We will start our list with some little-known Lake Baikal facts. But this … no words. You just need to keep reading.

1. Currently there are no active volcanoes on Lake Baikal.

Active volcanoes are found in Tunkinskaya valley (in the valley basin), which is a continuation of the Baikal rift.

2. On Lake Baikal about a hundred gas (“mud”) volcanoes were found.

3. Fishermen and local residents, as well as representatives of the scientific community many times have observed glowing orbs on the lake, and a lot of these observations were made especially in the vicinity of Cape Rytii.

According to local residents local spirits live in these areas and you shouldn’t go there.

Scientific opinion: there is no direct evidence, but these are probably methane emissions, which can ignite spontaneously in air.

4. In the photographs taken from space on the ice of Lake Baikal were found dark rings with a diameter of 5-7 kilometers, which appear in the same places, but not every year.

Scientific opinion: it is possible that under those rings at the bottom of Lake Baikal there are gas (“mud”) volcanoes. The emitted warm gas rises to the water surface forming by its movement an underwater cyclone, which is warmer than the surrounding water and creates such circles. Indeed, the ice in such circles is thinner and is more saturated with water than in other areas on Lake Baikal. Besides, the ice inside these dark circles appeared to be literally packed with micro cracks – perhaps gas escapes into the atmosphere through them.

5. From time to time onLake Baikal and in the rivers flowing into the lake there is mass mortality fish (cisco, whitefish). In other cases, mass mortality of sockeye salmon was recorded that washed ashore.

It would be possible to link it to industrial pollution, but in places where fish and sockeye salmon die there are no industries. 

Scientific opinion: in the Lake Baikal region mass emissions of natural gas have been documented many times, which could be the reason why animals die.

This fact is also important to consider for the travelers who go around places of potential emissions to reduce the potential danger exposure.

A sacred place (a worship of spirits)

Lake Baikal. A sacred place (a worship of spirits)

6. Deep manned submersibles “Mir” found at the bottom of Lake Baikal huge amounts of gas hydrates.

Gas hydrate is a solid compound of gas and water. One cubic meter of gas hydrates, when slightly warmed up, can produce up to 160-180 cubic meters of natural gas! That’s why gas hydrates are called the fuel of the future.

And only on Lake Baikal gas hydrates were found at a shallow depth and in a freshwater reservoir.

7. Lake Baikal is the oldest lake in the world; it is about 35 million years old (according to other sources – 25 million years old).

Usually freshwater lakes quickly get “overgrown” with silt, sometimes even in a matter of a few decades – and thus disappear. But not Lake Baikal!

8. Lake Baikal – is a new and emerging ocean.

Of course this is not exactly a fact, but rather a scientific hypothesis. But at this time, all the observed facts, including the movement of the earth plates (Lake Baikal is situated on the edge of the titanic Siberian platform), which leadto the expansion of the boundaries of Lake Baikal, imply exactly that.

9. The mountains around Lake Baikal are in constant motion: they go up or down.

The biggest speed of movement, +2.7 centimeters per year belongs to the North-Muya ridge.

10. Lake Baikal experiences around 2000 earthquakes per year.

A large number of earthquakes is a direct consequence of the movements of huge plates of the earth. In reality, major earthquakes are not as common happen on the lake.

11. Lake Baikal experiences earthquakes that fall outside of the scale of earthquakes.

Tsanaskoe earthquake in 1862 – formed Proval Bay on Lake Baikal –it was more than 10 points (M > 7 points): 200 square kilometers of land which was home to more than 1,300 people, went under water.

In 1959, an earthquake of 9.5 points lowered the bottom of Lake Baikal by 20 meters.

12. Lake Baikal experiences some real storms, the wave height of which that reaches up to 4-5 meters!

13. From Lake Baikal only one river flows – the Angara.

14. In its place of birth in Lake Baikal the Angara River has a width of 1 kilometer.

15. About 544 different watercourses flow into Lake Baikal (rivers, streams), some of which are seasonal.

16. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake on earth. Its depth is 1,642 meters. According to other sources – 1637 meters.

Wish tree on cape Burhan of Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal

Wish tree on cape Burhan of Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal

17. Lake Baikal has the thickest bottom sediments (silt) in the world – 8500 meters!

These sediments have started accumulating about 65 million years ago – even before the emergence of Lake Baikal.

Baikal Sea. Burhan cape of Olkhon Island

Baikal Sea.  Burhan cape of Olkhon Island 

18. If we calculate the depth of Lake Baikal from the top of the mountains surrounding Lake Baikal down to the solid bottom of the lake, it will be equal to 12,977 meters!

For example – the deepest trench in the ocean – the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean has the depth of only 11,022 meters and the highest mountain on earth – Mount Everest (Qomolangma) has the height of only 8,848 meters.

19. The water level in Lake Baikal is at 456 meters above sea level.

20. Lake Baikal holds 20% of all freshwater on the planet.

If every person in the world would spend 500 liters of water per day, then the available capacity of Lake Baikal would last for all of humanity for 40 years.

21. Lake Baikal has the purest freshwater water on the planet.

22. The water of Lake Baikal is the most transparent of all freshwater lakes.

In some areas of the lake you can see the bottom of it at a depth of 40 meters!

23. From space you can observe the bottom relief to a depth of 500 meters.

24. Water in the Lake Baikal is completely renewed approximately every 383 years.

25. The area of Lake Baikal is about equal to the area of the whole country – Belgium.

26. In the waters of Lake Baikal live 1455 animal species (endemic), which you will not find anywhere else.

Of course, this number will increase with each new study of the lake. Just species of fish that are found exclusivelyin the waters of Lake Baikal there are currently 27. For example, a gourmet Baikal cisco.

27. Ice on Lake Baikal in many places is completely transparent.

Baikal. Winter landscape with transparent ice near the shore in Goloustnoe

Baikal. Winter landscape with transparent ice near the shore in Goloustnoe

Huge open spaces and strong winds blow away the snow from the ice surface, and weak mineralization of the water makes the ice surprisingly transparent.

It feels as if you are about to fall through, but it is actually so thick that you can drive over on trucks, and at one time on the ice in winter people even laid rails.

28. Because of the transparency and ice and absence of clouds in the winter, the water “blooms” directly under the ice!

Baikal algae, which are only found in this lake, can actively develop even under the ice.

29. In winter the ice of Lake Baikal develops cracks, which can reach up to 30 kilometers in length and up to 3 meters in width.

Cracks in the ice enrich the water with oxygen, allowing the fish to breathe.

Ice on Lake Baikal

Ice on Lake Baikal 

30. On the shores of Lake Baikal there are many grottoes.

When Lake Baikal freezes in winter, the waves create amazing icicles in grottoes.

Baikal. Sunset view from the ice grotto on the island of Kharantsy

 Baikal. Sunset view from the ice grotto on the island of Kharantsy

31. Lake Baikal almost always has perfect weather

In summer the water in Lake Baikal is cold and basically doesn’t evaporate, and incoming clouds warm up on the slopes of the mountains surrounding Lake Baikal, and get scattered.

32. In winter in the water of Lake Baikal a special ice is formed, “whisper”that looks like needles of up to 1-2 centimeters, floating in the water.

33. On the shores of Lake Baikal cedars of around 550 years old were found.

Cedars continued to bear fruit even at this age.

34. The length of navigable waterways on Lake Baikal is 1200 miles.

35. Baikal according to one interpretation means “rich lake”, to the other – the “big sea”.

36. Baikal is on the list of “World Heritage of UNESCO.”

37. The distance from Lake Baikal to Irkutsk is about 65 kilometers.

Today, science has incredible tools and techniques, yet still many of the Lake Baikal facts and phenomena observed on the lake, the causes of which are hidden by one and a half kilometers of water, are still waiting to be explored.

See also: Top 11 Amazing Facts about Siberia
To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev

Photos 1, 3, 5 by Andrey Grachev

фото 2, 4, 6 -фотобанк Лори

This article contains some materials from the Russian Geographical Society and the Irkutsk State University (Russia).


16 responses to “37 Impressive Lake Baikal Facts”

  1. BeefPieSoup says:

    It’s hard to believe Lake Baikal is a real place sometimes. I’d love to see it some day.
    We live on a beautiful planet.

  2. George Williams says:

    Beautiful job of photography!

  3. Houston Frazier says:


  4. Jennifer Henderson says:

    Well written and fascinating article! I enjoyed reading it and learning about the beautiful Lake Baikal. It is the type of article that I like to bookmark and come back and read again.
    Deepest Appreciation and Salute to you for writing this and sharing it with the world!

  5. tim says:

    What is the largest fish found in Lake Baikal?

  6. Charmaine Dittrick says:

    Absolutely amazing photography and information. Alexa do you live close to this world heritage site? I am reading Silk Roads and was looking up some info on Siberia and there you were. Thank you. I too have this book marked.

  7. Laurie Winchester says:

    WOW Alexey, I am amazed always at the wonderment of the world. Thank you for all your info!!! People like you can inform the entire world, as you know; yet You n your photography n many facts fascinate me. Thank you again. P.S. Your very good looking too!!!! Take Care n plz continue your work. Love Laurie

  8. Daniel says:

    How could Lake Baikal have 20% of the world’s fresh water when 90% of the world’s fresh water is in Antartica?

    • Howie Dune says:

      There are three categories of fresh water. Ice caps, surface water (like Lake Baikal) and underground water. You are correct that the ice caps hold much of the fresh water. The 20% figure is the amount of fresh surface water in Lake Baikal compared to the fresh surface water in the world. For comparison, the Great Lakes, combined, also hold 20% of the eaths fresh surface water.

  9. Somdet Susomboon says:

    Should it be ok to visit during the new year? Will the lake becomes frozen? Plan to visit in new year 2020.

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