DEATH VALLEY, Nev. - Minutes after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake rocked parts of Mexico Monday, impacts from the seismic energy were seen in the United States as what officials described as a ‘desert tsunami’ formed in the Mojave Desert.
Unlike an ocean-based tsunami that produces an unfathomable amount of energy and gigantic waves, this desert feature was confined to a geothermal pool known as Devils Hole in Death Valley National Park.
The water-filled cavern is susceptible to seismic waves, and fortunately for National Park Service staff, they were in the right location at the right time to witness the earthquake’s effects.
Park staff immediately grabbed their phones and took video of the water splashing against rocks, similar to the sloshing effect in a bathtub or a pool.
"NPS staff were onsite conducting research and witnessed the effects firsthand. Within five minutes, the normally still water in the pool began slowly moving, and soon built to waves several feet high," the NPS staff wrote on Facebook.
Despite the epicenter being located 1,300 miles away, the sloshing of the water went on for several minutes.
Major earthquakes centered in Japan, Indonesia and Chile have caused similar sights that, for the most part, are harmless except for the critically endangered species of pupfish that call the geothermal pool home.
The NPS said the water temperature stays around 92 °F year-round, which allows the fish to forage and spawn on a shallow rock shelf near the surface.
Despite the sudden waves, there were no initial reports of significant impacts to the fish.
The NPS said they expect to see more spawning activity over the next few days, resulting in a potential population boom.