Just five seconds immediately after an earthquake of 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck near Mexico’s southwest coast on Monday, normally calm waters deep within the Death Valley National Park cave began to sloshing on the limestone rock.
The reverberations of the magnitude earthquake which was over 1,500 miles away triggered what scientists have described as”a “desert tsunami,” which on Monday saw waves rise as high as 4 feet in the cave called Devils Hole, a pool of water that is 10 feet wide 70 feet long and over 500 feet deep. It is located situated in Amargosa Valley, Nev.
The water in the full cave has turned into something of an “unusual indicator of seismic activity” all over the world there have been earthquakes around the globe even as far as Japan, Indonesia and Chile — causing the cave’s water to flood Devils Hole, according to the National Park Service website.
Strangely, it is interesting to note that the 6.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Mexico’s southwest coast early Thursday — which was not too far from Monday’s epicenter didn’t cause any disturbance to the waters or cause waves in Devils Hole, said Kevin Wilson, National Park Service aquatic ecologist. The earthquake that struck on Thursday was just outside Aguililla which is a town of a tiny size in the western part of Michoacan shortly after 1 a.m. and resulted in more than two fatalities. Two others also lost their lives in the Monday’s earthquake, with the epicenter was also located in Michoacan however, it was further to the to the east.
“It depends on the depth, magnitude and location around the world,” Wilson stated. He noted that typically, earthquakes that occur along the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” that are at or above magnitude of 7 will occur at Devils Hole.
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Devils Hole is home to the endangered pupfish, an unusual breed that may face temporary challenges because of the natural phenomenon, which is known as seiche. The waves that pound this cave stir up sediment and wash away the algae that is growing on the shallow shelf which pupfish depend on for food, and could also cause damage to pupfish eggs, Wilson said.
However, he added, in the long run the motion of earthquakes assists in the removal of organic matter that, in time, could drain oxygen out of the unique ecosystem.
“This kind of resets the system,” Wilson explained. He noted that the waves Monday were for about 30 minutes before they slowed down.
Wilson stated that it is not typical that the adult pupfish end up dying in these instances However, park rangers will continue offer supplementary food to the fish, who have seen a resurgence of its number in recent times. In March, authorities counted 175 Devils Hole pupfish — more than the 35 they recorded about a decade ago and Wilson stated that this fall’s count was scheduled for this weekend.
The geothermal pool that is located in the cave is maintained at about 93 degrees all year and has low levels of oxygen, make Devils Hole an “extreme” place to be, Wilson said — not forgetting the occasional but frequent earthquake aftershocks.
“The pupfish have survived several of these events in recent years,” Wilson stated. “We didn’t find any dead fish after the waves stopped.”
The most recent “desert tsunami” was recorded in July of 2019 the time when waves climbed up about 15-feet, according National Park Service officials, following an 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck near Ridgecrest.
The story first was published in the Los Angeles Times.