Volcanic activity is responsible for creating some of the planet’s most awe-inspiring geological features and Crater Lake is certainly one of them. Lying at the heart of Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, the enormous caldera lake is a lasting reminder of the ancient volcano, Mount Mazama.
When Mount Mazama collapsed following a violent eruption 7,700 years ago a 655 m (2,148 ft) deep caldera formed. When the caldera cooled, rain and snow began to accumulate, creating Crater Lake. A 700-year process of rain, snow and evaporation has partly filled the caldera to a depth of 594 m (1,948 ft). Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US; a remarkable feat when you consider that the water level is sustained entirely by precipitation. No rivers flow to or from the lake.
The lake contains two islands: Wizard Island, formed by a cinder cone that erupted as the lake filled with water; and Phantom Ship Island, which is home to seven different trees.
With no indigenous wildlife of its own, the lake was stocked with various species of fish between 1888 and 1941. Since then, several of these species have become self-sustaining and are thriving without external support.
Crater Lake is also home to a somewhat unusual resident, known as the ‘Old Man of the Lake’. This a 9 m (30 ft) tree stump, bobbing vertically in the water – it’s known to have been here since at least 1896, the low water temperature being responsible for slowing decay and preserving the wood. Despite erosion, the exposed end is strong and wide enough to support an adult’s weight.
The lake has undergone several name changes since 1853, when John Wesley Hillman first saw and named it Deep Blue Lake. It was also known as Blue Lake and Lake Majesty before finally being named Crater Lake.