Lakes in Patagonia: Buenos Aires-General Carrera and San Martín-O’Higgins – May 8th, 2009
Several lakes in Patagonia, near the mountainous border between Chile (left) and Argentina (right) stand out amidst the brown landscape.
The dark blue lake near the center shared by the two countries; it is known as Buenos Aires Lake in Argentina and General Carrera Lake in Chile.
The lake has a surface of 1,850 km², of which 970 km² are in the Chilean Aisén Region, and 880 km² in the Argentine Santa Cruz Province. This makes it the biggest lake in Chile and the fourth largest in Argentina. In its western basin, the lake’s depth reaches 586 meters.
The lake is of glacial origin and is surrounded by the Andes mountain range, with a strip of plains on the Argentina side. Although the weather in this area of Chile and Argentina is generally cold and humid, the lake itself and surrounding coastal areas have a sunny microclimate.
The lake drains to the Pacific Ocean on the west through the Baker River. However, there’s also an intermittent stream from the lake that heads east called Fénix Chico, which joins the Deseado River, and eventually reaches the Atlantic Ocean.
Further south, a bright turquoise lake can be seen. This lake also has a double name; it is known as O’Higgins in Chile and San Martín in Argentina. Its surface is of 1,058 km² at 250 metres above mean sea level, and it has a 525 kilometer long shoreline.
The lake is the deepest in the Americas with a maximum depth of 836 metres near the O’Higgins Glacier, and its characteristic milky light-blue color comes from rock flour suspended in its waters. It is mainly fed by the Mayer River and other streams, and its outlet Pascua River discharges water from the lake towards the Pacific Ocean.
The Southern Patagonian Ice Sheet extends from the lake for 330 kilometres to the Viedma Lake and Argentino Lake (both visible to the South, partially veiled by clouds).