Mexico earthquake triggers 'desert tsunami' 1,500 miles away in Death Valley cave
Devil's Hole. Credit: Stan Shebs, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

About five minutes after the 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit near Mexico's southwest coast Monday, the calm water in the Death Valley National Park cave began to swell against the limestone rock.

The water in the cave known as Devil's Hole was up to 4 feet high on Monday due to the effects of the earthquake more than 1,500 miles away.

According to the National Park Service website, the water in the partially filled cave has become an "unusual indicator of earthquake activity" across the world.

Kevin Wilson, National Park Service aquatic ecologist, said that the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico's southwest coast early Thursday did not affect the water or cause waves. At least two people were killed when an earthquake shook the western state of Michoacn in the early hours of Thursday. The epicenter of the earthquake was in Michoacn.

It depends on the location and depth of the world. He said earthquakes along the Pacific's "Ring of Fire" that reach at or above a magnitude 7 will be common.

The pupfish is a unique breed that can face short-term challenges following a seiche. Wilson said that the waves in the cave can cause a lot of damage to the pupfish and their eggs.

The movement from earthquakes helps remove the build up of organic matter which can suck oxygen from the unique environment.

Wilson said that this type of resets the system. The waves took about 30 minutes to calm down.

It's rare for the pupfish to die in these events, but park rangers will continue to provide supplemental feedings for the fish, which have seen resurgence in its population in recent years. The fall count is planned for this weekend after officials recorded 175 pupfish in March.

Devil's Hole is an "extreme" environment due to its low oxygen levels and the fact that the pool in the cave stays at 93 degrees year-round.

The pupfish have survived a number of these events. There were no dead fish after the waves stopped.

According to the National Park Service, the last desert tsunami was recorded in July of last year, when waves rose up to 15 feet.

The Los Angeles Times

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