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21 Thought Experiments to Show The Enormous Water Volume in Lake Baikal – Earth’s Deepest, Most Voluminous and Oldest Lake

Lake Baikal Thought ExperimentsThe amount of water in Lake Baikal – the world’s deepest and most voluminous lake – is more than all 5 North American Great Lakes combined + a second Lake Erie + a Crater Lake.

Officially, Lake Baikal, in Southern Siberia, has 23,013 cubic kilometers of water. That’s 20% of Planet Earth’s surface freshwater.

But volume is much harder to think about than distance. So here’s 21 thought experiments to try and help you visualize how much friggin’ water it has.

Let’s start:

1. Let’s empty Lake Baikal’s water onto American soil… How deep a pool would it make?

Baikal area overlay great lakes7 foot 8.5 inches or 2.333 m. Even Yao Ming in cowboy boots would be fully under water.

That purple outline is Lake Baikal. It doesn’t dwarf the great lakes in area but has so much more water because it it much deeper. More than 4x the average depth of the deepest Great Lake.

2. How long would it take Americans to drink the water?

Population of USA is ~319 million people. Let’s say that everyone drinks around 2 quarts or half a gallon per day. That’s around 2 litres per day. It would take just shy 100,000 years to drink it all.

3. How deep a pool if just emptied onto Texas land area?

Baikal Texas108.4 feet

4. How much would Nestle pay to suck up and bottle all that water?

$69 billion

5. How long would it take to transfer all that water onto Canadian and Mexican land (Using one of the world’s most powerful water pumps in each of the 14 border states)?

5,209 years

6. How deep of an Ocean would it make on the Moon?  

61 cm (2 ft) over the entire surface area.

7. How long would it take Niagara Falls to move equivalent of that much water?

258 years

8. How long would it take the Amazon River to discharge the equivalent of that much water?

Around 3.5 years for Amazon River to discharge a Lake Baikal.

Amazon has discharge rate of 209,000 m3 per second. That’s a Lake Tahoe every 8 days and 8 hours.

9. How many years could the worldwide consumption of bottled water be sustained by Lake Baikal based on current volume and 2013 consumption

612,000 years

10. How long would it take the entire water consumption of all American industries and uses to use equivalent of that much water


11. How long would it take Michael Phelps to swim in his new pool from his hometown (Towson, Maryland) to New York City at his 100m butterfly pace

41 hours 49 minutes

12. How many Lake Tahoes could Lake Baikal fill up


13. Distance a chain of 50m Olympic pools would have to stretch to hold Lake Baikal’s water (that’s 9.2 billion Olympic pools)

To Mars and back (460 million kilometres)

14. Pressure at the bottom of Lake Baikal

Imagine a 2016 Honda Civic balanced on a coin, and with that coin (and its weight) duplicated and glued everywhere over the entire area of your body.

15. Time for Michael Phelps to swim straight down to the deepest point of Lake Baikal at 100m pace

13 minutes 54 seconds

16. Get rid of Lake Baikal’s water and divert all the worldwide yearly beer consumption into Lake Baikals basin. How many years to refill

176, 923 years

17. We want to store all Lake Baikal’s water in Empire State Building sized tanks. How much land area do those tanks need to take up to store all the water and how many of those tanks do we need

21,952,397 Empire State Building Sized tanks to hold the water. You would need the entire state of Missouri’s land area to build these tanks to store the water. You would have 1.6% of the land area of Missouri left over for access roads, piping and pumps to use that water. Better plan carefully.

18. If Russia found a way to somehow turn all Lake Baikal’s water into premium oil how much would that oil be worth

$5,425 trillion or $5.4 quadrillion (324 years of US GDP)

19. If a same spec tunnel as English Channel tunnel went from Los Angelas to Sydney, Australia… What percent of the total volume of Lake Baikal water would it take to fill that entire tunnel with water

Just less than 1%

20. If you used just Lake Baikal water for Hoover Dam hydro plant how long could it provide current nameplate power

13,096 years including valve discharge. It could hypothetically power all hydroelectric plants in the United States for 194 years given a straight ratio calculation of Hoover Dam production and total US production of hydro power.

21. A huge diesel engine is used to power the worlds fastest pump. What is the cost of diesel fuel in total it would take to pump all of Lake Baikal’s water with one of the worlds fastest pumps given current diesel fuel cost of (not including maintenance or any other cost)

$8 billion


  1. List of lakes by depth“.
  2. Largest Lakes – Water Volume Lakes & Reservoirs“.