Bai [Siberian for Shaman] Kal [Siberian for lake]
The mother of all humanity
The water in this lake is identical to the water in the womb when a baby is born
Lake Baikal (Buryat and Mongol: Dalai-Nor) lies in Southern Siberia in Russia between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and Buryatia to the southeast near the city of Irkutsk. The origin of the name Baikal comes from Baigal which is translated from the Mongolian language as "nature". It is also known as the "Blue Eye of Siberia". Since 1996, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
At 1637 meters deep (5314 feet) with its body 1285 meters (4215 feet) below sea level, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world. It is also the largest freshwater lake by volume. It holds approximately 20 percent of the world's total surface fresh water (23,000 cubic kilometers of water). It contains more than 90% of Russia's fresh surface liquid water and is a World Heritage Site. Olkhon, by far the largest island in Lake Baikal, is the second largest lake-bound island in the world (the largest being Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron).
Contents [hide] 1 Geography and hydrography 2 Wildlife 3 Environmental concerns 3.1 Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill 3.2 Planned East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline 4 Notes and references 5 External links
Geography and hydrography
Very little was known about Lake Baikal until the Trans-Siberian railway was built between 1896 and 1902. The scenic loop encircling Lake Baikal needed 200 bridges and 33 tunnels. As this railway was being built, a large hydrogeographical expedition headed by F.K. Drizhenko produced the first detailed atlas of the contours of Baikal's depths. The atlas demonstrated that Lake Baikal has as much water as all of North America's Great Lakes combined 23,600 kmï¿½, about one fifth of the total fresh water on the earth. However, in surface area, it is exceeded by the much shallower Great Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan, as well as by the relatively shallow Lake Victoria in East Africa. Known as the "Galï¿½pagos of Russia", its age and isolation have produced some of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.
Lake Baikal is in a rift valley, a gorge where the crust of the earth is pulling apart. At 636 kilometres long and 80 km wide, Lake Baikal has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in Asia (31,494 kmï¿½) and is the deepest lake in the world (1637 metres, previously measured at 1620 metres). The bottom of the lake is 1285 metres below sea level, but below this lies some 7 km (4 miles) of sediment, placing the rift floor some 89 km (more than 5 miles) below the surface: the deepest continental rift on Earth. In geological terms, the rift is young and active it widens about 2 centimeters per year. The fault zone is also seismically active: there are hot springs in the area and notable earthquakes every few years. It drains into the Angara tributary of the Yenisei.
The Yenisei River basin, Lake Baikal, and the settlements of Dikson, Dudinka, Turukhansk, Krasnoyarsk, IrkutskIts age is estimated at 2530 million years, making it one of the most ancient lakes in geological history. It is unique among large, high-latitude lakes in that its sediments have not been scoured by overriding continental ice sheets. US and Russian studies of core sediment in the 1990s provide a detailed record of climatic variation over the past 250,000 years. Longer and deeper sediment cores are expected in the near future.
The lake is completely surrounded by mountains. The Baikal Mountains on the north shore and the taiga are technically protected as a national park. It contains 22 islands, the largest, Olkhon (also spelled 'Olchon'), is 72km long. The lake is fed by as many as 300 inflowing rivers, the six main ones are the Selenga River (the source of some of Lake Baikal's pollution), the Chikoy River, the Khiloh, the Uda River, the Barguzin River and the Upper Angara River. It is drained through a single outlet, the Angara River.
Despite its great depth, the lake's waters are well-mixed and well-oxygenated throughout the water column compared to the stratification that occurs in such bodies of water as Lake Tanganyika and the Black Sea.
Although there were muted protests, a wood pulp and cellulose processing plant was built at the south end of the lake (at Baikalsk). The plant still pours industrial effluent into Baikal's waters. The overall impacts of watershed pollution on Baikal and similar watersheds are studied annually by the Tahoe-Baikal Institute, an exchange program between U.S., Russian, and Mongolian scientists and university graduate students started in 1990.
1: Hum Genet. 1988 Nov;80(3):207-18
Characteristics of Mongoloid and neighboring
populations based on the genetic markers of human immunoglobulins.
Since the discovery in 1966 of the Gm
ab3st gene, which characterizes Mongoloid populations, the distribution of allotypes of
immunoglobulins (Gm) among Mongoloid populations scattered from Southeast Asia through
East Asia to South America has been investigated, and the following conclusions can be
drawn: 1. Mongoloid populations can be characterized by four Gm haplotypes, Gm ag, axg,
ab3st, and afb1b3, and can be divided into two groups based on the analysis of genetic
distances utilizing Gm haplotype frequency distributions: the first is a southern group
characterized by a remarkably high frequency of Gm afb1b3 and a low frequency of Gm ag,
and the second, a northern group characterized by a high frequency of both Gm ag and Gm
ab3st but an extremely low frequency of Gm afb1b3. 2. Populations in China, mainly Han but
including minority nationalities, show remarkable heterogeneity of Gm allotypes from north
to south and contrast sharply to Korean and Japanese populations, which are considerably
more homogenous with respect to these genetic markers. The center of dispersion of the Gm
afb1b3 gene characterizing southern Mongoloids has been identified as the Guangxi and
Yunnan area in the southwest of China. 3. The Gm ab3st gene, which is found with its the
highest incidence among the northern Baikal Buriats, flows in all directions. However,
this gene shows a precipitous drop from mainland China to Taiwan and Southeast Asia and
from North to South America, although it is still found in high frequency among Eskimos,
Koryaks, Yakuts, Tibetans, Olunchuns, Tungus, Koreans, Japanese, and Ainus. On the
other hand, the gene was introduced into Huis, Uyghurs, Indians, Iranians, and spread as
far as to include Hungarians and Sardinians in Italy. On the basis of these results,
it is concluded that the Japanese race belongs to northern Mongoloids and that the origin
of the Japanese race was in Siberia, and most likely in the Baikal area of the Soviet