A glacial lake in Chile has suddenly disappeared according to park rangers at Bernardo O’Higgins National Park in the southern Andes.
“In March we patrolled the area and everything was normal,” said Juan Jose Romero from CONAF Chile’s National Forestry Corporation. “We went again in May and to our surprise we found that the lake had completely disappeared. All that was left were chunks of ice and an enormous fissure.”
The fissure could mean an earthquake may be responsible for the disappearance, since the Magallanes region is known to experience lots of tremors, but the problem is there haven’t been any quakes recently in the park.
“No one knows what happened,” Romero said.
However, an earthquake hasn’t been completely ruled out as the cause. A recent quake in nearby Aysen last April could be the culprit. According to glacial specialist, Andres Rivera, the Magallenes area has seen interesting changes in the last few decades. He noted that the lake didn’t exist 30 years ago.
When the lake was there, it covered about 5 acres, (330 ft by 660 ft) and was about 100 feet deep. It’s not a huge lake, but it’s no backyard fish pond either. Here’s a link that will give you a better idea just how large an area 5 acres is.
Geologists and other experts are heading to the area 1250 miles south of Santiago to investigate so maybe they’ll come up with some answers.
In geological terms lakes are considered ephemeral events, and sometimes changes in the landscape happen gradually, sometimes they happen quite rapidly. This is a good example of the latter.