O'Higgins/San Martín Lake

  (Redirected from Lake San Martín)

The lake known as O'Higgins in Chile and San Martín in Argentina is located around coordinates 48°50′S 72°36′W / 48.833°S 72.600°W / -48.833; -72.600 in Patagonia, between the Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo Region and the Santa Cruz Province.

San Martín Lake
Lago O'Higgins 3.jpg
Location of lake in Argentina
Location of lake in Argentina
LocationO'Higgins Commune, Capitán Prat Province, Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo Region, Chile / Lago Argentino Department, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
Coordinates48°50′S 72°36′W / 48.833°S 72.600°W / -48.833; -72.600Coordinates: 48°50′S 72°36′W / 48.833°S 72.600°W / -48.833; -72.600
Primary inflowsMayer River
Primary outflowsPascua River
Basin countriesArgentina, Chile
Surface area1,013 km2 (391 sq mi)
Max. depth836 m (2,743 ft)
Shore length1525 km (326 mi)
Surface elevation250 m (820 ft)
Sections/sub-basinsCancha Rayada, Chacabuco, Maipú, De la Lancha
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

General informationEdit

Bernardo O'Higgins Lake in the Aysén Region

The lake has a surface area of 1,013 square kilometres (391 sq mi), an elevation of 250 metres (820 ft) above mean sea level, and a shoreline length of 525 kilometres (326 mi). Viewed from above, the lake consists of a series of finger-shaped flooded valleys, of which 554 square kilometres (214 sq mi) are in Chile and 459 square kilometres (177 sq mi) in Argentina, although sources differ on the precise split, presumably reflecting water level variability. The lake is the deepest in the Americas with a maximum depth of 836 metres (2,743 ft) near O'Higgins Glacier,[1] and its characteristic milky light-blue color comes from rock flour suspended in its waters. It is mainly fed by the Mayer River and other streams, and its outlet, the Pascua River, discharges water from the lake towards the Pacific Ocean at a rate of 510 cubic metres per second (18,000 cu ft/s). The O'Higgins Glacier flows eastwards towards the lake, as does the Chico Glacier. Both of these glaciers are part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field which extends for approximately 350 kilometres (220 mi) in a north-south direction to the west of Lake O'Higgins.

Immigrants did not settle in the arid windy area around the lake until the 1910s, when British, Scandinavians and Swiss started raising sheep for wool.

The most common tourist route for visiting the lake is that between El Chaltén in Argentina and Villa O'Higgins in Chile, including a ferry through the lake on the Chilean side.

Water from O'Higgins/San Martín Lake flows into the Pacific Ocean through the Pascua River.


Being the most irregular of the lakes in the area, consisting of eight well defined arms, the name San Martín is sometimes used to refer only to the Argentine side, and O'Higgins to the four Chilean arms. Both names come from independence heroes José de San Martín of Argentina and Bernardo O'Higgins of Chile, who fought together for the liberation of Chile, and came to be known as Liberators of America together with other South American figures.

The four Argentine arms of the lake, with an area of 521 km², are named Cancha Rayada, Chacabuco, Maipú and De la Lancha, after battles of General San Martín.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Mass balance investigations at Glaciar Chico, Southern Patagonia Icefield Chile" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-08-18. Retrieved 2006-10-16.

External linksEdit