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Lake Mackay, Australia's fourth largest lake. Image Credit: Jesse Allen/NASA Earth Observatory

The ephemeral Lake Mackay

  • BY AG Staff |
  • January 08, 2015

This satellite image of Lake Mackay looks more like an abstract painting

LAKE MACKAY IS the fourth-largest lake in Australia, covering 4737 sq.km. It's located on the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Like many salt lakes in the region, Lake Mackay fills up only with seasonal rainfall. The lakes are rarely deeper than a few metres, and may be as shallow as 50cm.

Named after explorer Donald George Mackay - who, along with his brothers, was the first to cycle around Australia - Lake Mackay is only eclipsed in size by Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre, Lake Torrens, and Lake Gairdner, all in South Australia. However, because of their ephemeral nature, the volumes of some of these salt lakes change by large amounts.

This image above was acquired on 19 September, 2010, by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite.