Lake Natron

Coordinates: 02°25′S 36°00′E / 2.417°S 36.000°E / -2.417; 36.000
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Lake Natron
Satellite image of lake.
The lake on 6 March 2017 (satellite image)
Located in Northern Tanzania near Kenya border.
Located in Northern Tanzania near Kenya border.
Lake Natron
LocationNgorongoro District, Arusha Region, Tanzania
Coordinates02°25′S 36°00′E / 2.417°S 36.000°E / -2.417; 36.000
Lake typesaline
Basin countriesTanzania, Kenya
Surface elevation600 metres (2,000 ft)[1]
Official nameLake Natron Basin
Designated4 July 2001
Reference no.1080[2]

Lake Natron is a salt or alkaline lake in north Ngorongoro District of Arusha Region in Tanzania. It is in the Gregory Rift, which is the eastern branch of the East African Rift.[1] The lake is inside the Lake Natron Basin, a Ramsar Site wetland of international significance.[2]

The southern half of Lake Natron (top). Fault scarps and the Gelai Volcano can also be seen. Numerous near-white salt-crust "rafts" pepper the shallowest parts of the lake (inset).

A small part of the lake is in Kenya.

The lake is mainly fed by the Southern Ewaso Ng'iro River, which rises in central Kenya, and by mineral-rich hot springs.[1] It is less than three metres (9.8 ft) deep. Its width depends on its water level. The lake is a maximum of 57 kilometres (35 mi) long and 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide.[1]

In the surrounding area rain is infrequent. Most of the rain occurs between December and May. The total rainfall is about 800 millimetres (31 in) per year.[1] Temperatures at the lake are frequently above 40 °C (104 °F).[1]

High levels of evaporation have left behind natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) and trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate). The alkalinity of the lake can reach a pH of greater than 12. The surrounding bedrock is made of alkaline, sodium-dominated trachyte lavas that were laid down during the Pleistocene period. The lavas have significant amounts of carbonate but very low calcium and magnesium levels. This has allowed the lake to concentrate into a caustic alkaline brine.[3]

Flamingos at lake natron

The lake is home to a number of wading birds, notably flamingoes. They feed on small crustaceans that live in the lake. In some areas, all three species of Alcolapia can be found. Alcolapia are small fish.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Eastern Africa: Northern Tanzania, on the border with Kenya". World Wildlife Fund.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Lake Natron Basin". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. "Alkaline Environments", authored by W. D. Grant and B. E. Jones, in Encyclopedia of Microbiology, editor-in-chief Joshua S. Lederbeg, Academic Press, 2010, page 129, accessed 24 November 2014