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Lake Tharthar


Lake Tharthar

Lake Tharthar
Landsat 5 (1990)
Location Al Anbar Province
Primary inflows Tharthar Canal
Primary outflows Taksim Tharthar Canal
Basin countries Iraq
Max. length 120 kilometres (75 mi)
Max. width 48 kilometres (30 mi)
Surface area 2,710 km2 (1,050 sq mi)[1]
Average depth 40 m (130 ft) to 65 m (213 ft)[1]
Water volume 35.18 km3 (8.44 cu mi) to 85.59 km3 (20.53 cu mi)[1]
Surface elevation 3 metres (9.8 ft)
References [1][2]
Lake Tharthar is located in Iraq
Location of Tharthar lake
American air plane flying over lake Tharthar 2004.

Lake Tharthar (also Therthar), and known in Iraq as Buhayrat ath-Tharthar (Arabic: بحيرة الثرثار‎), is an artificial lake opened in 1956, situated 120 kilometers north of Baghdad between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.


  • Description 1
  • Purposes 2
  • Flora and fauna 3
    • Birds 3.1
    • Mammals 3.2
    • Fish 3.3
    • Plants 3.4
  • References 4


Tharthar covers roughly 2,050 square kilometres (790 sq mi), flows from the central and eastern parts of Sinjar Mountains and adjacent hills, with a floor of – 3 m, above the sea level. The maximum length and width of the depression are 120 and 48 Km, respectively. The eastern rim of the depression is higher than the western one, the heights of both rims are 90 metres (300 ft) and 75 metres (246 ft), respectively. The Tharthar depression formed During Holocene age, mainly by karstification, due to dissolving of gypsum rocks of the Fatha (nearby area) Formation.[2]

In 1956, the southern part of the Tharthar depression was turned into an artificial reservoir to collect flood waters of the Tigris River. The water flows via an artificial inlet canal,named Tharthar Canal. The canal diverts the access water, by means of a regulator Samarra Barrage. It merges with the lake in its southeastern bank.

The lake has an artificial outlet called Taksim Tharthar Canal, which drains to the Euphrates River directly. The canal, after 28 km from its outlet, bifurcates to another canal called "Dhira'a Dijla",(arm of tigris) it returns the water back to the Tigris River.


The main purpose of the Tharthar Lake is to collect the access water in the Tigris River during flood seasons and to recharge water to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers during dry seasons, when there is shortage in water in both rivers. Moreover, it aims in washing out the salts from the stored water, in the lake by means of natural continuous draining of the stored water.[2]

Flora and fauna

Tharthar lake and the surrounding areas are considered one of the most important grazing areas in Iraq, including the wide wheat and corn fields covering the area. The area harbors many spices of animals and vegetation.


Tharthar lake is considered the main wintering grounds for many threatened species of migrant birds such as Saker Falcon MacQueen's bustard, Sociable Lapwing. 54 bird species were seen in Tharthar lake including: Pallid HarrierCircus macrourus, European Roller Coracias garrulus, and Black-tailed Godwit Limosa (all Near Threatened) were recorded on passage and the endemic race of Hooded Crow Corvus cornix capellanus was present.


Golden Jackal Canus aureus has been observed regularly at the site. Striped Hyaena and Caracal were reported by local people near the lake edge. Many species of reptiles have been observed such as Turkish Gecko Hemidactylus turcicus and Egyptian Spiny-tailed Lizard Uromastyx aegyptia.


Ten fish species have been caught in the Lake including : Aspius vorax , Barbus xanthopterus , B.luteus, B. sharpeyi, Carassius auratus , Cyprnion kais, Cyprinus carpio , Silurus triostegus, Chondrostoma regium and Liza abu .


Tharthar lake and the surrounding area contain about 38 species of plants . Four main habitat types observed within the Al-Tharthar Lake and Al Dhebaeji Field area :


  1. ^ a b c d Lake Tharthar (Arabic) Republic of Iraq Ministry of Water Resources
  3. ^ "Al-Tharthar Lake and All-Dhebaeji Fields (SD2), (KBA XXX)" (PDF). 
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