Earthquake Causes River to Disappear in Costa Rica

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Following a series of moderate earthquakes that struck the country Tuesday, residents around the Guacalito River in Costa Rica discovered that the river had disappeared. Earthquake-report.com reported that sometime after the earthquakes, villagers living near the river, which is located near Armenia de Upala, discovered that the river was dry.

It was not immediately known if the waters of the river had disappeared due to sinkhole activity that can occur after earthquakes or if the earth shaking caused damming that dried up the river near the Miravalles volcano. The quakes were centered near the Nicaragua and Costa Rica border in the same vicinity as the Miravalles volcano.

An entire body of water disappears? Strange but true, and this isn't the first time this odd event has happened.

In 2010, the Iska River in Slovenia disappeared after local residents heard loud crashing and banging overnight. The next morning, the river was dry and the riverbed was full of fish and other creatures. It was believed that the waters of the river had drained through a large crack into an underground riverbed. This disappearance was not believed to have been related to an earthquake.

Most recently -- aside from the disappearing river in Costa Rica -- an entire reservoir in Huntsbury, New Zealand, that was filled with 36 million liters of water disappeared following a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The reservoir water disappeared after the earthquake struck Christchurch Feb. 22.

A body of water disappearing is not unusual, nor is it unheard of for an earthquake to change the shape and form of bodies of water. There have also been numerous examples of seismic activity creating new bodies of water.

In 1959, the largest earthquake to strike Montana -- a 7.3 magnitude temblor -- caused a landslide to dam the Madison River just below Hebgen Dam, thus creating a new body of water that became Hebgen Dam, or "Quake Lake."

The historic New Madrid earthquakes in the central United States created a lake in northwestern Tennessee in 1812. Reelfoot Lake was formed during the Feb. 7, 1812, earthquake that was one of several to strike the region during the winter of 1811 and 1812. That earthquake, which is estimated to have been at least 7.0 in magnitude or higher, caused subsidence along the Reelfoot River, dropping a 13,000 acre area of land between 4 and 19 feet. This area filled with water to become Reelfoot Lake.

Tammy Lee Morris is certified as a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and is a trained Skywarn Stormspotter through the National Weather Service. She has received interpretive training regarding the New Madrid Seismic Zone through EarthScope--a program of the National Science Foundation. She researches and writes about earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes and other natural phenomena.

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