Two of the Most Unusual Lakes in America are in Washington

There are two very special lakes in Washington. One is more well-known compared to the other. 

The Pacific Northwest has a variety of world-class mountains, waterways, islands, and fields for all kinds of agriculture. It also has lakes, rarely observed on Earth. 

We have two lakes in Washington that only occur in nature an average of 1 in 1,000.

North Central Washington - Home to both Soap Lake and Hot Lake. Both of these lakes are only one of 14 of their kind in the United States. 


Washington’s Two Meromictic Lakes


1- Soap Lake 

Located in the town of Soap Lake. The lake was formed by the Missoula Floods on the edge of the Grand Coulee. Soap Lake's mud and water contain over 20 different minerals.

'Soap Lake's mineral-rich waters have long been thought to have medicinal value. In fact, it is said that rival native tribes would call a truce when they came to Soap Lake to relax and heal themselves and their animals.' - Soap Lake: A Mineral Lake in the Heart of Washington. (2004)

Soap Lake
"View from the South Shore of Soap Lake" CREDIT: Steven Pavlov (Creative Commons by Share Alike 3.0 Unported)


2 - Hot Lake

A hypersaline (READ: Saltier than typical seawater,) meromictic lake located in Okanogan County, not far from the Canadian border. Hot Lake is about a ten-minute drive from Oroville.

Hot Lake in Northern Okanogan County CREDIT: Stephen R. Lindemann (via Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0)
Hot Lake in Northern Okanogan County CREDIT: Stephen R. Lindemann (via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

The term Meromictic refers to lakes with water that won’t mix with lower layers.


'In most lakes, the deep and upper levels of lake water tend to mix and cycle through - once (most common), twice, or more each and every year. In meromictic lakes - the layers of the lake water can remain unmixed for years, decades, or centuries.'  - "The Stability of Meromictic Lakes in Central Washington" Limnology and Oceanography. (Author: K.F. Walker - March 1974)


What Makes Soap Lake and Hot Lake Special

Soap Lake and Hot Lake contain distinct layers of water (called stratification), with colder, denser water separated from the warmer water above. The bottom layer is often deprived of oxygen, making it harder for aquatic species to survive, but these environments are also rich with potential for evidence of ancient plant and animal life. They are also extremely rare.

INFO: K.F. Walker

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