Lake Eyre

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Lake Eyre (pronunciation: /ˈɛər/) is the lowest point in Australia, at approximately 15 m (49 ft) (AHD) below sea level, and, on the rare occasions that it fills, it is the largest lake in Australia. It is the focal point of the vast Lake Eyre Basin and is found some 700 km (435 mi) north of Adelaide.

Contents

Geography

The lake was named after Edward John Eyre who was the first European to sight it in 1840. It is located in the deserts of central Australia, in northern South Australia. The Eyre Basin is a large endorheic system surrounding the lakebed, the lowest part of which is filled with the characteristic salt pan caused by the seasonal expansion and subsequent evaporation of the trapped waters. Even in the dry season there is usually some water remaining in Lake Eyre, normally collecting in a number of smaller sub-lakes on the playa.

During the rainy season the rivers from the northeast (in outback Queensland) flow towards the lake through the Channel Country. The amount of water from the monsoon determines whether water will reach the lake and if it does, how deep the lake will get. In strong La Niña years the lake can fill. Since 1885 this has occurred in 1886–1887, 1889–1890, 1916–1917, 1950, 1955, 1974–1976 [1], with the highest flood of 6 m (20 ft) in 1974. Local rain can also fill Lake Eyre to 3–4 m (10–13 ft) as occurred in 1984 and 1989. Wave built shingle terraces on the shore suggest that during the Medieval Warm Period and centuries immediately prior Lake Eyre possibly held permanent water at levels above those of 1974. Torrential rain in January 2007 took about six weeks to reach the lake but put only a small amount of water into it.[2]

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