Great Slave Lake

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Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake Sat.jpg
False-color photo of Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake.svg
Map of Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca
LocationNorthwest Territories
Coordinates61°40′N 114°00′W / 61.667°N 114.000°W / 61.667; -114.000 (Great Slave Lake)Coordinates: 61°40′N 114°00′W / 61.667°N 114.000°W / 61.667; -114.000 (Great Slave Lake)
Lake typeremnant of a vast glacial lake
Primary inflowsHay River, Slave River
Primary outflowsMackenzie River
Catchment area971,000 km2 (374,905 sq mi)[1]
Basin countriesCanada
Max. length480 km (300 mi)[citation needed]
Max. width109 km (68 mi)[citation needed]
Surface area27,200 km2 (10,502 sq mi)[1]
Average depth41 m (135 ft)[1]
Max. depth614 m (2,014 ft)[1]
Water volume1,580 km3 (380 cu mi)[1]/
Shore length13,057 km (1,900 mi)[1]
Surface elevation156 m (512 ft)[1]
FrozenNovember - mid June[2]
SettlementsYellowknife, Hay River, Behchoko, Fort Resolution, Lutselk'e, Hay River Reserve, Dettah, N'Dilo
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
 
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Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake Sat.jpg
False-color photo of Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake.svg
Map of Great Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca
LocationNorthwest Territories
Coordinates61°40′N 114°00′W / 61.667°N 114.000°W / 61.667; -114.000 (Great Slave Lake)Coordinates: 61°40′N 114°00′W / 61.667°N 114.000°W / 61.667; -114.000 (Great Slave Lake)
Lake typeremnant of a vast glacial lake
Primary inflowsHay River, Slave River
Primary outflowsMackenzie River
Catchment area971,000 km2 (374,905 sq mi)[1]
Basin countriesCanada
Max. length480 km (300 mi)[citation needed]
Max. width109 km (68 mi)[citation needed]
Surface area27,200 km2 (10,502 sq mi)[1]
Average depth41 m (135 ft)[1]
Max. depth614 m (2,014 ft)[1]
Water volume1,580 km3 (380 cu mi)[1]/
Shore length13,057 km (1,900 mi)[1]
Surface elevation156 m (512 ft)[1]
FrozenNovember - mid June[2]
SettlementsYellowknife, Hay River, Behchoko, Fort Resolution, Lutselk'e, Hay River Reserve, Dettah, N'Dilo
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Great Slave Lake (French: Grand lac des Esclaves) is the second-largest lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada (after Great Bear Lake), the deepest lake in North America at 614 metres (336 fathoms; 2,014 ft),[1] and the tenth-largest lake in the world. It is 480 km (300 mi) long and 19 to 109 km (12 to 68 mi) wide. It covers an area of 27,200 km2 (10,502 sq mi)[1] in the southern part of the territory. Its given volume ranges from 1,070 km3 (260 cu mi)[3] to 1,580 km3 (380 cu mi)[1] and up to 2,088 km3 (501 cu mi)[4] making it the 10th or 12th largest.

The lake shares its name with the Slavey First Nations. Towns situated on the lake include: Yellowknife, Hay River, Behchoko, Fort Resolution, Lutselk'e, Hay River Reserve, Dettah and N'Dilo. The only community in the East Arm is Lutselk'e, a hamlet of about 350 people, largely Chipewyan Aboriginals of the Dene Nation and the now abandoned winter camp/Hudson's Bay Company post, Fort Reliance.

History[edit]

North American Aboriginal Peoples were the first settlers around the lake, building communities including Dettah, which still exists today. British fur trader Samuel Hearne explored the area in 1771 and crossed the frozen lake, which he initially named Lake Athapuscow (after an erroneous French speaker's pronunciation of Athabaska). In 1897-1898, the American frontiersman Charles "Buffalo" Jones traveled to the Arctic Circle, where his party wintered in a cabin that they had constructed near the Great Slave Lake. Jones's exploits of how he and his party shot and fended off a hungry wolf pack near Great Slave Lake was verified in 1907 by Ernest Thompson Seton and Edward Alexander Preble when they discovered the remains of the animals near the long abandoned cabin.[5]

In the 1930s, gold was discovered there, which led to the establishment of Yellowknife, which would become the capital of the NWT. In 1967, an all-season highway was built around the lake, originally an extension of the Mackenzie Highway but now known as Yellowknife Highway or Highway 3. On January 24, 1978, a Soviet Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite, named Kosmos 954, built with an on board nuclear reactor fell from orbit and disintegrated. Pieces of the nuclear core fell in the vicinity of Great Slave Lake. 90% of the nuclear debris was recovered by a joint Canadian Forces and United States military operation called Operation Morning Light.[6]

Geography and natural history[edit]

Mackenzie River drainage basin showing Great Slave Lake's position in the Western Canadian Arctic
Forest fires in northern Canada, southeast of Great Slave Lake
Eastern arm of Great Slave Lake

The Hay, Slave and Taltson Rivers are its chief tributaries. It is drained by the Mackenzie River. Though the western shore is forested, the east shore and northern arm are tundra-like. The southern and eastern shores reach the edge of the Canadian Shield. Along with other lakes such as the Great Bear and Athabasca, it is a remnant of the vast Glacial Lake McConnell.

The East Arm of Great Slave Lake is filled with islands, and the area is within Thaydene Nene National Park. The Pethei Peninsula separates the East Arm into McLeod Bay in the north and Christie Bay in the south. The lake is at least partially frozen during an average of eight months of the year. During winter, the ice is thick enough for semi-trailer trucks to pass over using ice roads. Until 1967, when an all-season highway was built around the lake, goods were shipped across the ice to Yellowknife, located on the north shore. Goods and fuel are still shipped across frozen lakes up the winter road to the diamond mines located near the headwaters of the Coppermine River, Northwest Territories.

A ferry was required to reach Yellowknife when the ice was not present in a solid sheet along Highway 3 where it crossed the Mackenzie River. The ferry usually ran from mid-May until January with a three- to four-week period (from mid-April to mid-May) between the closing of the ice road and the start of ferry service.[7] However, the completion of the Deh Cho Bridge across the Mackenzie November 30, 2012 put an end to the need for the ferry. It is the longest jointless bridge in North America.[8]

The main western portion of the lake forms a moderately deep bowl with a surface area of 18,500 km2 (7,100 sq mi) and a volume of 596 km3 (143 cu mi). This main portion has a maximum depth of 187.7 m (616 ft) and a mean depth of 32.2 m (106 ft).[9] To the east, McLeod Bay (62°52′N 110°10′W / 62.867°N 110.167°W / 62.867; -110.167 (McLeod Bay, Great Slave Lake)) and Christie Bay (62°32′N 111°00′W / 62.533°N 111.000°W / 62.533; -111.000 (Christie Bay, Great Slave Lake)) are much deeper, with a maximum recorded depth in Christie Bay of 614 m (2,014 ft).[1]

Northern Bay, Great Slave Lake

On some of the plains surrounding Great Slave Lake, climax polygonal bogs have formed, the early successional stage to which often consists of pioneer black spruce.[10]

South of Great Slave Lake, in a remote corner of Wood Buffalo National Park, is the nesting site of a remnant flock of Whooping Cranes, discovered in 1954.[11]

Hay River, one of the tributaries of Great Slave Lake

Ice road[edit]

There is one ice road on Great Slave Lake, the Dettah ice road. It connects from Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories to Dettah, also in the Northwest Territories.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hebert, Paul (2007). "Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories". Encyclopedia of Earth. Washington, DC: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  2. ^ NAV CANADA's Water Aerodrome Supplement. Effective 0901Z 7 March 2013 to 0901Z 3 April 2014
  3. ^ Schertzer, William M.; Rouse, Wayne R.; Blanken, Peter D.; Walker, Anne E. (2003 August). "Over-Lake Meteorology and Estimated Bulk Heat Exchange of Great Slave Lake in 1998 and 1999" (pdf). Journal of Hydrometeorology (American Meteorological Society) 4 (4): 650. Bibcode:2003JHyMe...4..649S. doi:10.1175/1525-7541(2003)004<0649:OMAEBH>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 2011-01-21. "The surface area of Great Slave Lake is 27,200 km2 with a total volume of 1,070 km3 (van der Leeden et al. 1990)." 
  4. ^ Great Slave
  5. ^ "Buffalo Jones". The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, Michigan State University. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Operation Morning Light". Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  7. ^ Open and Close Dates for the NWT Ferry System
  8. ^ Bridge linking N.W.T. capital with rest of Canada opens
  9. ^ Schertzer, W. M. (2000). Digital bathymetry of Great Slave Lake. NWRI Contribution No. 00-257, 66 pp. 
  10. ^ Hogan, C. Michael (2008), Stromberg, Nicklas, ed., Black Spruce: Picea mariana, GlobalTwitcher.com 
  11. ^ "Whooper Recount". University of Nebraska. Retrieved 2007-01-20. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]