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The Great Lakes are not called great just because of their square mileage, but for their depth as well. A lake’s depth is not only valuable as a measure for how far you can dive downwards, or how much water the lake has. Determining deep points in the lake allows people to figure out probable temperatures, water quality, and where certain lake fauna can be found during certain times. So throw on your favorite Lake Life t-shirt and read up on what’s at the bottom of our beautiful Lake Michigan.


Finding the Average

The average depth of Lake Michigan is about 46 fathoms or 279 feet. That’s about twice the height of the Chicago Water Tower. That is only the average depth, summed up by adding all the differing depths of the lake and dividing it by how many depths were used.

The shallowest point of Lake Michigan is easily measured simply by going to the shores, but the deepest point is where the numbers soar (or dive in this case). The deepest point of Lake Michigan is 923 feet (153-154 fathoms deep) To give you an idea how deep that is, if we managed to get France’s Eiffel Tower and gently dip it in, only the top viewing area would be poking out of the water with the flag waving by the lake wind.


An Abrupt Cold

The deeper you go, the colder it gets, but what’s interesting is that the transition is more shocking. Instead of the temperature gradually dropping, you start off with the natural “warm” waters of Lake Michigan, then about 30-40 feet down, you’ll find that the water is quite clear and there’s a large temperature dip, from a “warm” 23 degrees Celsius, to a bone-chilling 14 degrees Celsius in just a few feet. This is due to a process called a “Thermocline” or thermal layer, usually due to the sun’s radiation stopping at that depth, literally the point where the warmth offered by the sun stops.


What Can Be Found in the Depths of Lake Michigan?

  • A Stonehenge Like Structure – Stonehenge is a circular set of stone slabs placed in a vast prairie in the United Kingdom. A popular theory suggests that it was a way for the ancient people to measure the years, watching how the sun aligns with the stones. One thing is for sure, it’s man-made. At just about 40 feet into Lake Michigan, researchers found a set of stone slabs in a small circle. It’s proven man-made due to a carving of a mammoth on one of the rocks. What it could be used for, nobody knows for sure yet.

  • An Oak Forest – Not the living one of course, but fossilized stumps found in the lake floor were found, and after carbon dating determined that these tough trees grew plenty just after the ice age. You only need to dive 75 feet to reach this.
  • Plane and Ship Graveyards – Like all large bodies of water, many ships have sunk in Lake Michigan, either by accident or on purpose. Some airplanes and ships, however, have evidence that they went through a catastrophic event resulting in sinking or crashing, but no proper debris could be found, except a few scraps. This was attributed to the mysterious Lake Michigan Triangle, akin to the infamous Bermuda Triangle, where ships and planes also mysteriously disappeared.