Devil's Kettle Minnesota

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Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby LukeM » Apr 13, 2011 9:54 am

So I came across this interesting geological phenomenon and it's blowing my mind that it seems no one has figured it out.

http://www.sciencebuzz.org/blog/devils-kettle-conundrum

Seems all you'd need to do is come up with a way to divert the entire flow to the non-disappearing side - maybe during a local drought - and then take a look.

Has anyone seen this fascinating place?
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby muddyface » Apr 13, 2011 4:03 pm

Maybe they haven't tried dye tracing every possible route. It mentions Lake Superior, but underground drainages can be completely wacko sometimes.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby LukeM » Apr 14, 2011 8:14 am

Yeah it just seems odd that it's so little understood. I've seen smaller versions of features like this in similar rock, as in 20-30 ft long at the most. Natural Stone Bridge caves in the Adirondacks are longer, but in marble. Half a river getting pirated away to an unknown location in igneous bedrock seems like an extreme rarity.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby JR-Orion » Apr 18, 2011 1:34 pm

Very interesting. I wonder if any of the Minnesota cavers are looking into this? Or if there is a safe way to rig a rope that would keep a person out of the falls?
Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby John Lovaas » Apr 18, 2011 2:49 pm

Jasen-

I asked MSS speleo-historian Greg Brick about it- and he didn't have any more on the feature than what the internet has. I've been looking for published papers on it, but can't find anything on it, except for a few brief discussions by geologists of what it might be.

It is formed in an old lava flow(the Devil's Kettle rhyolite)- but not one that is condusive to lava tube formation, I guess.

The lack of published reports makes me wonder if anyone has ever actually A) measured stream flow above and below the fall and compared the results, or B) dumped dye or rubber ducks :tonguecheek: into the swallet.

Which makes me wonder if it is a pothole that has worn through at the bottom.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby LukeM » Apr 18, 2011 3:08 pm

John, in my scraping the internet for answers, I found more than one person that claimed both dye and ping pong ball tests have been performed. Someone also claimed that a local university was having (or had) students design some sort of electronic instrument to explore the hole.

Another account assured that the flow was halved in the main water course all the way to the lake, but once again, this is internet hearsay so take it with a grain of salt.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby LukeM » Apr 18, 2011 3:12 pm

Apparently it's featured in the movie Jennifer's Body.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby John Lovaas » Apr 18, 2011 3:18 pm

LukeM wrote:John, in my scraping the internet for answers, I found more than one person that claimed both dye and ping pong ball tests have been performed. Someone also claimed that a local university was having (or had) students design some sort of electronic instrument to explore the hole.


I've seen the same things- although they are all examples of the internet quoting the internet... ;-)

Until I see evidence of a real person connected with a real experiment, I think the most plausible explanation is that it is a pothole with a hole in the bottom. Least plausible- entry point to Lemuria ;-)
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby LukeM » Apr 18, 2011 4:06 pm

Hmm, I might have to try to get in contact with someone at the department of Geology at the University of Minnesota. The original article I linked references info originating from a geologist there.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby John Lovaas » Apr 18, 2011 4:48 pm

LukeM wrote:Hmm, I might have to try to get in contact with someone at the department of Geology at the University of Minnesota. The original article I linked references info originating from a geologist there.


Yes- the Sciencebuzz article is referencing a Wikipedia entry- a paragraph quoted from Geology on Display: Geology and Scenery of Minnesota's North Shore State Parks-

Not only is the outlet unknown, but there is currently no satisfactory geological explanation for the Devil's Kettle. Certainly riverbed potholes are known to form from rocks and grit swirling in an eddy with such force that they eventually drill a vertical shaft in the bedrock. How the flow is conducted away laterally, however, remains enigmatic. As geologist John C. Green writes:

One [theory] is that, after dropping down the pothole, the river runs along a fault underground, or as a variant, that it enters an underground channel and comes out somewhere under Lake Superior. Both of these ideas have one valid aspect in common: they recognize that water must move downhill! But the main problem is creating a channel or conduit large enough to conduct the impressive flow of half the Brule River! Faulting commonly has the effect of crushing and fracturing the rock along the fault plane. This could certainly increase the permeability of the rock - its capacity to transmit water - but the connected open spaces needed to drain half the river would be essentially impossible, especially for such a distance. Furthermore, there is no geologic evidence for such a fault at the Devil's Kettle. Large, continuous openings generally do not occur in rocks, except for caves in limestone terranes. The nearest limestone is probably in southeastern Minnesota, so that doesn't help... Maybe the Devil's Kettle bottoms out fortuitously in a great lava tube that conducts the water to the Lake... Unfortunately for this idea, they are not the right kind of volcanic rocks! Rhyolites, such as the great flow at this locality, never form lava tubes, which only develop in fluid basaltic lava. Even the basalts in this area may not be the "right kind", being flood basalts that spread laterally as a sheet from fissures, not down the slopes of a volcano. No lava tubes have been found in the hundreds of basalt flows exposed along the North Shore. Furthermore, the nearest basalt is so far below the river bed, and even if it did contain an empty lava tube (very unlikely after its long history of deep burial) the tube would have to be both oriented in the right direction (south) and blocked above this site so that it isn't already full of debris. And there are no reports of trees or other floating debris suddenly appearing at one spot offshore in Lake Superior. The mystery persists.


The book is a MN DNR publication that came out in 1996. You would think that if a U of M geologist knew of any dye trace work at the site, he would have referenced it.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby George Dasher » Apr 19, 2011 2:14 pm

The first thing to do would be to measure the flows above and below the feature. Maybe more than once.

Then, if they are different, you could do a dye trace.

But you would have to use a lot of dye, because you are probably going to be looking for an underwater spring in the lake.
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Re: Devil's Kettle Minnesota

Postby JR-Orion » Apr 19, 2011 2:59 pm

Very interesting all around. Although I didn't realize how far north that place is... guess I won't be seeing the falls in person anytime soon.
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