Gatun Locks, Panama Canal
This is the first set of locks situated
on the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal. A series of three lock
chambers raise ships to a height of 87 feet above sea level. Each lock is 100 feet wide and 1000 feet long
and takes eight to 15 minutes to fill with water.
There are three sets of locks in the Panama Canal. On the Pacific
entrance are Miraflores, with two chambers, and Pedro Miquel with one
chamber. On the Atlantic is one set of locks with 3 chambers, the Gatun
Locks. Ships are raised a total of 87 feet above sea level into Gatun
Lake and then lowered at the end of their transit into the other ocean.
A common misconception is that one ocean is higher that the other, but
they are both at sea level.
Panama receives as much as 200 inches of rain per year. This was a
determining factor in placing the canal there since 52 million gallons
of fresh water is lost to the ocean on each transit.