LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A strong earthquake earlier this week in Mexico triggered four-foot-tall waves in Death Valley’s Devil Hole. Measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, the earthquake was centered about a hundred miles southeast of Guadalajara. Two people were killed in the Pacific coast state of Colima.
The quake hit at 11:05 a.m. Pacific time Monday and it took 22 minutes to have an effect on the water in Devils Hole in Death Valley National Park.
Video courtesy Ambre Chaudoin/NPS
The National Park Service said the water in Devils Hole began sloshing around and by 11:35, waves were reaching about four feet high. One member of the park service was able to capture video, seen above, of the so-called “desert tsunami.”
Devils Hole is a limestone cave hundreds of feet deep and is home to the endangered Devils Hole pupfish that depend upon algae growing on a shallow, sunlit shelf. “The pupfish have survived several of these events in recent years,” said Kevin Wilson, National Park Service aquatic ecologist. “We didn’t find any dead fish after the waves stopped.”
Nine years ago there were only 35 pupfish counted in the water, but in March of this year, scientists counted 175 fish.
Monday’s waves stirred the sediment and rocks on the shallow shelf, according to the park service, and removed much of the algae growth. In the short term, this reduces the food available to the pupfish.