Earthquake In Mexico Causes 'Desert Tsunami' In Death Valley National Park

By Bill Galluccio

September 22, 2022

Zabriskie point at sunset, Death valley, USA
Photo: Getty Images

Monday's (September 19) 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Mexico caused a rare geological phenomenon over 1,500 miles away in Death Valley National Park. The National Park Service said that a "desert tsunami" was reported at Devils Hole, a water-filled limestone cave system in Nye County, Nevada.

The submerged caves are hundreds of feet deep and home to the endangered Devils Hole pupfish, which survive on algae grown near the surface. The desert tsunami, which is officially known as a seiche, washed away much of the algae growth and stirred up the sediment in the caves.

Officials said that while the fish may be temporarily deprived of their primary source of food, they are expected to be okay.

"The pupfish have survived several of these events in recent years," said Kevin Wilson, a National Park Service aquatic ecologist. "We didn't find any dead fish after the waves stopped."

Officials have not seen any evidence of a desert tsunami following a second 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico on Thursday.

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