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No. 72: Nov-Dec 1990

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Baikal's deep secrets

Lake Baikal, in Siberia, requires many superlatives in its description. It is the deepest lake, 1637 meters; the oldest lake, 20-25 million years; and home to the richest array of lake life, both in terms of biomass and recorded species. There are found here 1550 species and variants of animals plus 1085 plants. Over 1000 of these species of life are found nowhere else. The sediments de-posited on the lake floor are of astounding thickness. Bedrock lies 7 kilometers below the lake surface in some spots. With a maximum depth of 1637 meters, we find by subtraction places where more than 5 kilometers of sediment have collected.

The diversity of Baikal's life is remarkable in itself, but there are two aspects of it that approach the anomalous: (1) Baikal's seals are 1000 kilometers of so from salt water. How did they get there and when? (2) Hydrothermal-vent communities have been discovered at a depth of about 400 meters in the northern part of the lake. These communities contain sponges, bacterial mats, snails, transparent shrimp, and fish; some of which are new to science. Baikal's thermal vents are the only ones known in freshwater lakes. Their rela tion to saltwater vent communities has not yet been explored. (Stewart, John Massey; "Baikal's Hidden Depths," New Scientist, p. 42, June 23, 1990. Also: Monastersky, R.; "Life Blooms on Floor of Deep Siberian Lake," Science News, 138:103, 1990.)

Comment. Despite its inland position, the suspicion develops that Baikal was connected to the oceans in recent geological times.

From Science Frontiers #72, NOV-DEC 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987