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Overview of the limnology of Crater Lake

January 1, 1996

Crater Lake occupies the collapsed caldera of volcanic Mount Mazama in Crater Lake National
Park, Oregon. It is the deepest lake (589 m) in the United States and the 7th deepest lake in the world. The water column mixes to a depth of about 200 m in winter and spring from wind energy and cooling. The deep lake is mixed in winter and early spring each year when relatively cold water near the surface sinks and exchanges positions with water in the deep basins of the lake. The lake becomes thermally stratified in summer and early fall. The metalimnion extends to a depth of about 100 m; thus most of the water column is a cold hypolimnion. Secchi disk clarity measurements typically are in the upper-20-m range to the low-30-m range in summer and early fall. Concentrations of nutrients are low, although conductivity is relatively high owing to the inflow of hydrothermal fluids. Total chlorophyll is low in concentration, but typically maximal at a depth of 120 m during periods of thermal stratification. Primary production also is low, with the maximum levels occurring between the depth of 40 and 80 m. Phytoplankton taxa are spatially segregated from each other within the water column to a depth of 200 m in summer and early fall. The same generalization applies to the zooplankton taxa. Water level, clarity, concentrations of total chlorophyll, primary production, and abundances of zooplankton and introduced kokanee salmon exhibit long-term fluctuations. Based primarily on a recent 10-year study of the lake, the lake is
considered to be pristine, except for the consequences of fish introductions.

Publication Year 1996
Title Overview of the limnology of Crater Lake
Authors Gary L. Larson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Northwest Science
Index ID 1015663
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center