Waterfall

Where the Water in the Devil’s Kettle Goes

devils-kettle

In Judge C. R. Magney State Park in Minnesota, there exists a natural phenomenon along the Brule River known as the Devil’s Kettle- a waterfall that splits in two, with one half falling about 50 feet into the river below and continuing on its merry way towards Lake Superior and the other half falling into a large hole in the ground that seems to go nowhere. In fact, local legend posits that anything thrown into the Devil’s Kettle will never be seen again. People trying to disprove this have thrown everything from boxes of ping pong balls to giant logs into the hole to see where they end up, with nothing ever seeming to emerge anywhere nearbye. So where is the stuff thrown in going?

For many years, the most popular hypotheses put forward were that the water falling into the hole either flowed into a hidden underground limestone cave carved into the rock by eons of flowing water or it flowed into a lava tube.

If you’re unfamiliar, a lava tube is pretty much what it sounds like- a large tube formed by flowing lava as it cools. In a nutshell, as the top layer cools and hardens, lava underneath potentially continues to flow for some time until the source of the lava stops. This can lead to that inner layer of lava draining and leaving behind a large empty tube in a lava rock shell.

Thus, the hypothesis is that the falling water cut through the surface rock at some point and fell into an ancient lava tube formed at the same time as the rest of the volcanic rocks in the area.

This sounds perfectly plausible, but the issue is that while rhyolite, which forms the bedrock on top of which the river system is located, is a volcanic rock, it doesn’t form lava tubes. And as for the basalt layer underneath, while this can form lava tubes, this particular type is flood basalt, which comes up from fissures, rather than flowing down from a volcano. Thus, flood basalt is incredibly unlikely to create lava tubes (more typically just creating large seepage sheets of rock) and no such lava tubes have ever been discovered in the area, despite many known lava beds in the region.

As for the other popular hypothesis, this is that there perhaps is a large underground limestone cave or river system the water drains into. However, the nearest limestone deposits to the park are hundreds of miles away and rhyolite is much too hard of a rock for such a cave system to likely have formed in it.

Despite these two hypothesis thought to be unlikely by most, they were long the best guesses simply because nothing anyone ever threw into the hole ever…

Yosemite’s Waterfalls Are Back and Everyone Loves It

Yosemite Falls in all its glory.
Yosemite Falls in all its glory.

Yosemite National Park is one of America’s most beautiful natural landscapes but years of drought have seen many of its rivers and waterfalls lose some of their majestic power. But thanks to heavy snowmelt, many of them are back with a vengeance, and so are the visitors.

According to NBC Bay Area, the waters in the park haven’t been this powerful since 2010. The added water has not only reinvigorated some of the more famous falls like Yosemite Falls, it has also burst out and created countless other small, new waterfalls along the…

Antarctica Is Covered in Rivers, Lakes, and Waterfalls. That Might Not Be Good.

The floating ice shelves that buttress Antarctica are less icy than we thought, it turns out. They’re filled with flowing water. New research published in the scientific journal Nature maps the extensive network of meltwater from Antarctica’s ice sheets and found that, contrary to previous understanding, lakes and rivers—even waterfalls—created by melting have been common for at least seven decades.

Two new papers analyze satellite imagery of Antarctica dating back to 1973 and aerial photography dating back to 1947 for evidence of meltwater. Warming oceans melt ice shelves around from the bottom up, while warming air temperatures melt them from the top down, creating pools and rivers of liquid water on the continent’s surface.

Researchers found that over the last 70 years, a system of meltwater drainage has transported water from the continent of Antarctica across the floating ice shelves that surround it, traveling up to 75 miles and creating ponds up to 50 miles long.

This isn’t great news for the stability of the ice shelf. Water is heavy, and the weight can cause the ice below these lakes to crack. As…

Yosemite Falls Has Been Revived By the Drought-Ending Winter

Some of Yosemite’s most iconic landmarks—like the Half Dome and the Grizzly Giant sequoia tree—have looked more or less the same since the park was first founded in 1890. But Yosemite Falls is constantly changing, and for the past five years, the impact of California’s drought could be seen at the site, as well as other places throughout the park. Now, after a winter of above-average snowfall, ABC 7 reports that the waterfall is the fullest it has been in years. The creeks and falls reach peak flow during spring of each year. This season the streams are especially impressive, as they’re fueled by the melting of record-breaking snowpack. There’s no better place to…