17 de Sep de 2021


Lake Gatun

Stories from the United States' relationship with the Panama Canal, in celebration of its centenary

At the time of its construction, the Gatun Lake was the largest artificial lake in the world measuring 435 square km and holding 5.2 cubic kilometers of water.  In 1913, the Gatun dam construction ended and the river grew as much in diameter as in depth.  The zone’s geography was suitable for the construction of an artificial lake, since the hilly area created a natural rim for the lake.  The Gatun Lake is an important piece of the Panama Canal, since it represents almost 33 kilometers of the route that ships transit to cross the Canal.  Due to its location in a tropical forest, the heavy local rains do not represent a problem for the lake’s level; the forest absorbs the excess of water and releases it gradually back to the lake.  Nevertheless, constant deforestation has started to put this natural process at risk.  While the Panama Canal construction allowed for transport between the two seas; in reality, the creation of the Gatun Lake connected both oceans.