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Great Lakes Geography

7 | Introduction to the Great Lakes

Lake Ontario highlighted in yellow.

Although similar to Lake Erie in surface area and physical dimensions, Lake Ontario is a much deeper lake, averaging 283 feet. Comparing their volumes, Lake Ontario holds almost four times more water than Lake Erie. Ontario ranks fourth among the Great Lakes in maximum depth, but its average depth is second only to Lake Superior.

Fun Facts
Niagara Falls. Click for a larger image. Lake Ontario lies 325 ft (99 m) below Lake Erie, at the base of Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls were always an obstacle to navigation into the upper lakes until the Trent-Severn Waterway, along with the Welland and Erie canals were built to allow ships to pass around this bottleneck.

The oldest lighthouse on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes was set up at Fort Niagara in 1818 to aid navigation.

More about Lake Ontario

Graphics: Basin map with Lake Ontario highlighted; Niagara Falls.

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