A crater lake is a lake that forms in a volcanic crater or caldera, such as a maar; less commonly and with lower association to the term a lake may form in an impact crater caused by a meteorite, or in the crater left by an artificial explosion caused by humans. Sometimes lakes which form inside calderas are called caldera lakes, but often this distinction is not made. Crater lakes covering active (fumarolic) volcanic vents are sometimes known as volcanic lakes, and the water within them is often acidic, saturated with volcanic gases, and cloudy with a strong greenish color. For example, the crater lake of Kawah Ijen in Indonesia has a pH of under 0.5. Lakes located in dormant or extinct volcanoes tend to have fresh water, and the water clarity in such lakes can be exceptional due to the lack of inflowing streams and sediment.
- 1 Formation
- 2 List of volcanic crater lakes
- 3 List of meteor crater lakes
- 4 List of artificial crater lakes
- 5 List of crater lakes of unclear origin
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Volcanic crater lakes
Crater lakes form as the created depression, within the crater rim, is filled by water. The water may come from precipitation, groundwater circulation (often hydrothermal fluids in the case of volcanic craters) or melted ice. Its level rises until an equilibrium is reached between the rates of incoming and outgoing water. Sources of water loss singly or together may include evaporation, subsurface seepage, and, in places, surface leakage or overflow when the lake level reaches the lowest point on its rim. At such a saddle location, the upper portion of the lake is contained only by its adjacent natural volcanic dam; continued leakage through or surface outflow across the dam can erode its included material, thus lowering lake level until a new equilibrium of water flow, erosion, and rock resistance is established. If the volcanic dam portion erodes rapidly or fails catastrophically, the occurrence produces a breakout or outburst flood. With changes in environmental conditions over time, the occurrence of such floods is common to all natural dam types.
A well-known crater lake, which bears the same name as the geological feature, is Crater Lake in Oregon. It is located in the caldera of Mount Mazama. It is the deepest lake in the United States with a depth of 594 m (1,949 ft). Crater Lake is fed solely by falling rain and snow, with no inflow or outflow at the surface, and hence is one of the clearest lakes in the world.
The highest volcano in the world, 6,893-m (22,615-ft) Ojos del Salado in Chile, has a permanent crater lake about 100 m (330 ft) in diameter at an elevation of 6,390 m (20,965 ft) on its eastern side. This is most likely the highest lake of any kind in the world.
Due to their unstable environments, some crater lakes exist only intermittently. Caldera lakes in contrast can be quite large and long-lasting. For instance, Lake Toba (Indonesia) formed after its eruption around 75,000 years ago. At a size of around 100 km (60 miles) by 30 km (18 miles) in extent and 505 m (1,656 ft) deep at its deepest point, Lake Toba is the largest crater lake in the world. While many crater lakes are picturesque, they can also be deadly. Gas discharges from Lake Nyos (Cameroon) suffocated 1,800 people in 1986, and crater lakes such as Mount Ruapehu's (New Zealand) often contribute to destructive lahars.
Certain bodies of water, although their formation is directly related to volcanic activity, are not usually referred to as crater lakes, including:
- Lakes created by volcanic dams due to lava flowing outside of the volcanic edifice/caldera (such as Garibaldi Lake in Canada, Fuji Five Lakes in Japan)
- Closed atoll lagoons (such as Clipperton lagoon), whose formation process also implies subsequent biogeomorphologic processes
- Ponds encountered at the bottom of waterfalls occurring in volcanic canyons in a volcanic context, but not within a volcanic edifice/caldera (such as Trou de Fer on Réunion Island)
Impact crater lakes
Artificial crater lakes
Other geological features that can be mistaken for a crater lake
Some geomorphological features, when filled with water, can sometimes be confused with crater lakes:
- Pingos (soil-covered ice mounts) whose summital part has collapsed
- Sinkholes (karstic holes, also called cenotes), such as Otjikoto Lake in Namibia
Some circular open-pit mines can also present a similar appearance, such as Big Hole in Kimberley, South Africa, a diamond mine (in a kimberlite pipe) where water has accumulated in the artificially created depression.
List of volcanic crater lakes
There are about 137 major crater lakes in the world. 
List of meteor crater lakes
List of artificial crater lakes
|Lake Chagan (crater created in 1965 by a nuclear test, lake still radioactive)||Kazakhstan|
|'Atomic Lake' (crater created in 1971 by nuclear explosions aimed at building the Pechora–Kama Canal)||Russia, Volga|
List of crater lakes of unclear origin
|Lake Guatavita (site of a centuries-old treasure hunt)||Colombia|
|Takht-e Soleymān (Throne of Solomon, lake surrounded by an archaeological fortified site)||Iran|
|Sirente crater (small shallow seasonal lake)||Italy|
- Lava lake – Molten lava contained in a volcanic crater
- Volcanic crater – Roughly circular depression in the ground caused by volcanic activity
- Caldera – Cauldron-like volcanic feature formed by the emptying of a magma chamber
- Types of volcanic eruptions – Basic mechanisms of eruption and variations
- Maar – Low-relief volcanic crater
- Atoll – Ring-shaped coral reef, generally formed over a subsiding oceanic volcano, with a central lagoon and perhaps islands around the rim
- Impact crater – Circular depression on a solid astronomical body formed by a hypervelocity impact of a smaller object
- Measuring the acidity of Kawah Ijen crater lake
- Gary L. Larson Geographical distribution, morphology and water quality of caldera lakes: a review Hydrobiologia 171: 23-32 (1989) https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00005721
- "Facts and Figures about Crater Lake". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- Andes Website - Information about Ojos del Salado volcano, a high mountain in South America and the World's highest volcano Archived 2007-04-27 at the Wayback Machine
- Glenday, Craig (2010). Guinness World Record 2011. ISBN 9781904994572.
- Phenom: Pingos of The Far North IceCubicle.net
- John Seach Volcanic Lakes
- http://www.gtz.de/de/praxis/11695.htm Archived 2007-08-22 at the Wayback Machine Description of Mount Wonchi crater lake on the website of GTZ
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-06. Retrieved 2012-11-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Kahumana Sanctuary – Geology
- http://whc.unesco.org/uploads/nominations/1077.pdf World Heritage nomination file
- http://noviceview.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/takht-e-soleyman-%e2%80%93-50000bc-%e2%80%93-600bc/ Geological development of Takht-e Soleymān
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Crater lakes.|
- Delmelle, Pierre; Bernard, Alain (2000). "Volcanic Lakes". In Sigurdsson, Haraldur (ed.). Encyclopedia of Volcanoes. San Diego: Academic Press (published 1999). pp. 877–895. ISBN 978-0-12-643140-7.
- Varekamp, Johan C.; Rowe, Gary L., Jr., eds. (2000). "Crater Lakes". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 97 (1–4): 1–508. Bibcode:2000JVGR...97....1C. doi:10.1016/S0377-0273(99)00167-5. (entire volume about crater lakes)
- Pasternack, G. B.; Varekamp, J. C. (1997). "Volcanic lake systematics I. Physical constraints". Bulletin of Volcanology. 58 (7): 526–538. Bibcode:1997BVol...58..528P. doi:10.1007/s004450050160.
- Kusakabe, Minoru, ed. (1994). "Geochemistry of Crater Lakes". Geochemical Journal. 28 (3): 137–306. doi:10.2343/geochemj.28.137. (entire issue about chemistry of crater lakes)
- IAVCEI Commission of Volcanic Lakes
- IAVCEI Commission of Volcanic Lakes: Some fundamentals about Crater Lakes
- The Science of Volcanic Lakes
- Volcanic Lakes of the World
- USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: Water on volcanoes: heavy rain and crater lakes
- USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory: Volcanic Lakes
- The Science of Volcanic Lakes, Greg Pasternack, U. California Davis
- Crater Lake National Park documentation in Building Oregon: Architecture of Oregon & the Pacific Northwest archive
- World Volcanic Lakes Map