The September 19 earthquake in Mexico created a “tsunami in the desert”, in the United States

The magnitude 7.7 earthquake that hit several states in Mexico on September 19, 2022, not only caused damage within the national territory, authorities of the United States National Park Service reported that minutes after the earthquake occurred in Mexico, a “tsunami in the desert” was caused in Death Valley National Park in California.

According to witnesses, just five minutes after the earthquake shook Colima, Michoacán, Jalisco, and Mexico City, the effects of the telluric movement were felt just over 2,400 kilometers away, in Nye County, Nevada, home of the famous limestone cavern “Devils Hole” which is partially filled with water.

The earthquake caused the water of the “Devils Hole” to shake causing waves of almost a meter and a half in height, which were captured on video by park personnel.

In the recording, life sciences technician Ambre Chaudoin is heard being amazed by the churning and swirling of the water and even mentions: “this is a big earthquake, wherever it is.”

The fact that the earthquake in Mexico has caused this “tsunami in the desert” is due to the surprising geological peculiarity of Devils Hole.

“Devils Hole is a window into this vast aquifer and an unusual indicator of seismic activity around the world,” reads an explanation on the NPS website.

“Major earthquakes as far afield as Japan, Indonesia and Chile have caused water to ‘spout’ in Devils Hole like water in a bathtub.”

“Tsunami in the desert”, what is it?

According to the specialized journal Science Alert, when an earthquake shakes a partially enclosed lake or body of water, it is known as a seiche. But when this occurs in an arid environment like Death Valley National Park, it’s colloquially known as a “desert tsunami.”

While not as gigantic as an ocean tsunami, these waves are much larger than are usually seen in this partially filled cavern.

Devil’s Hole Home of the Pupfish

Devils Hole is a partially water-filled limestone cave in a Nye County, Nevada unit of Death Valley National Park. The cave is hundreds of meters deep and is home to the Devils Hole Pupfish, an endangered species of fish that relies on algae that grow on a shallow, sunlit platform.

According to experts, the waves caused by the earthquake of September 19, 2022, in Mexico stirred up the sediment and rocks on the shallow shelf, and also removed much of the algae growth, which means that in the short term this reduces the food available for the “puppy”.

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