Mexico earthquake triggers ‘desert tsunami’ in Death Valley cave 1,500 miles away in Nevada

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An earthquake that struck Mexico earlier this week caused four-foot waves around a cave system in Nevada’s Death Valley.

The 7.6 Magnetube earthquake shook the states of Colima and Michoacán in western Mexico on Monday (September 19th). The Devil’s Hole cave system in Death Valley National Park, which is located in eastern California and extends into parts of Nevada, is about 1,500 miles to the north.

The highest temperature ever recorded on Earth was recorded in Death Valley on July 10, 1913, when a temperature of 56.7 degrees Celsius (134 Fahrenheit) was reached, according to Guinness World Records.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the region receives an average of just 2.2 inches of precipitation per year.

In this particularly dry area, Devil’s Hole is a “geothermal cave system” that retains water, according to the National Park Service (NPS).

The cave system is “the only natural habitat for the highly endangered Devils Hole pupfish,” the NPS states on its site. There are only between 100 and 180 in nature.

The cave system is over 430 feet (131 meters) deep, with pupfish present in the top 80 feet (24.3 meters).

The water in the caves is generally calm, rich in carbonate and poor in oxygen. The average temperature is 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius).

Pupfish feed on the algae that grows in the waters.

Earlier this week, 22 minutes after the earthquake hit Mexico, waves measuring four feet surged around the cave system.

“On September 19, 2022, a large earthquake that shook the Pacific coast of Mexico made waves in Devil’s Hole – literally,” Death Valley National Park wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “The 7.6 magnitude event struck near the Colima-Michoacan border at 11:05 a.m. local time (PDT; 1:05 p.m. epicenter). NPS personnel were on hand to conduct research and witnessed the effects of Within five minutes, the normally calm water in the pool began to move slowly and quickly formed waves several feet high.

“The highly endangered Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) fortunately evolved with these types of periodic natural disturbances, and they were fine and swimming (thankfully?) thereafter,” park staff added in the post. “Consistent with previous observations, staff expect to see an increase in spawning activity over the next few days, which will hopefully result in even more recruits to the population.”

An increase in population also took place after other earthquakes that caused waves in Devil’s Hole, Newsweek Noted. The 2012 earthquake in the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, the 2018 Gulf of Alaska earthquake, and the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes all prompted waters to shed algae from rocks, affecting food supply.

“It’s crazy that distant earthquakes are affecting Devil’s Hole,” Kevin Wilson, aquatic ecologist for Death Valley National Park, said in a January 2018 statement following the Alaska earthquake. “We’ve seen this many times before, but it still amazes me.”

According to the NPS, “The phenomenon is technically known as seismic seiche. They are standing waves in an enclosed body of water (like a lake or swimming pool) caused by seismic waves from an earthquake.

“It looks a lot like a tsunami, but tsunamis are caused by an earthquake that moves the ocean floor up or down. Tsunamis can generate much larger waves,” Wilson added. at the time.


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