A crater lake is a lake that forms in a volcanic crater or caldera, such as a maar; less commonly and with lower association to the term a lake may form in an impact crater caused by a meteorite, or in an artificial explosion caused by humans. Sometimes lakes which form inside calderas are called caldera lakes, but often this distinction is not made. Crater lakes covering active (fumarolic) volcanic vents are sometimes known as volcanic lakes, and the water within them is often acidic, saturated with volcanic gases, and cloudy with a strong greenish color. For example the crater lake of Kawah Ijen in Indonesia has a pH of under 0.5. Lakes located in dormant or extinct volcanoes tend to have fresh water, and the water clarity in such lakes can be exceptional due to the lack of inflowing streams and sediment.
A well-known crater lake, which bears the same name as the geological feature, is Crater Lake in Oregon. It is located in the caldera of Mount Mazama. It is the deepest lake in the United States with a depth of 594 m (1,949 ft). Crater Lake is fed solely by falling rain and snow, with no inflow or outflow at the surface, and hence is one of the clearest lakes in the world.
The highest volcano in the world, 6,893-m (22,615-ft) Ojos del Salado in Chile, has a permanent crater lake about 100 m (330 ft) in diameter at an elevation of 6,390 m (20,965 ft) on its eastern side. This is most likely the highest lake of any kind in the world.
Due to their unstable environments, some crater lakes exist only intermittently. Caldera lakes in contrast can be quite large and long-lasting; for instance, Lake Toba (Indonesia) formed after its eruption around 70,000 years ago and has an area of over 1,000 km2. While many crater lakes are picturesque, they can also be deadly. Gas discharges from Lake Nyos (Cameroon) suffocated 1,800 people in 1986, and crater lakes such as Mount Ruapehu's (New Zealand) often contribute to destructive lahars.