Sunday, April 11, 2021

The curious shape of Lake Manicouagan

How did this lake get such a particular circular shape?

The answer is very simple: the water from this lake has filled the interior of what remains of an ancient impact crater.

In fact, Lake Manicouagan is located inside the homonymous crater located in Quebec (Canada). The crater at the time of its formation had a diameter of about 100 km. Due to erosion (mainly due to the work of glaciers) its diameter has now reduced to 72 km, but it remains one of the largest craters visible on the Earth's surface.

The crater contains an annular lake called Manicouagan Reservoir which surrounds René-Levasseur Island. Together, the lake and the roughly 2,000 km2 island are known as the “eye of Québec.”

The Manicouagan Crater is also one of the oldest known terrestrial craters: it was formed 215 million years ago, when an asteroid with a diameter of 5 km hit the surface.

Mount Babel, in the center of the island inside the lake, is what remains of the central peak of the crater formed following the impact. It rises for about 600 meters respect to the level of the lake.

Credit: Sentinel 2, ESA. 

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