These Mysterious Lakes Disappeared…and Came Back

[♪ INTRO] Lots of bodies of water, like rivers and ponds,
they change shape and size over time. But lakes? Like, we usually think of lakes as being pretty
permanent. Yeah, of course, water levels will rise and
drop during years of heavy rain or drought, but lakes themselves, they don’t go anywhere,
right? Well, except I wouldn’t be talking about
it if they didn’t; some do, and around the world, there are lakes
that disappear without warning, and then, even stranger, they come back. This can happen for lots of different reasons, and understanding these mysterious lakes can
show us surprising things about Earth’s geology, and how water is often connected to hidden
processes under the surface. One of these disappearing acts happens every
year in the Cascade Mountains, in one of Oregon’s so-called “Lost Lakes.” If you saw this lake in the winter, you wouldn’t
notice anything strange. During the wet winter months, it fills up
with rainwater and runoff, and covers over 300,000 square meters of land. But when the rainy season ends in the spring,
things get weird. Around that time, the lake starts to shrink, and it keeps shrinking until, by summer, the
whole thing is a giant meadow. Now, you might be thinking that this lake
just evaporated, right? But a few months isn’t enough time for a
huge lake to just evaporate into thin air. Especially because, let’s be real, Oregon
isn’t that hot and dry in the summer. Instead, something else is happening; something
way cooler. The lake is actually leaking constantly through
a hole in the lakebed that’s around 2 meters wide. It’s basically like having a bathtub drain
that’s constantly open. You just don’t notice it in the winter because
there’s enough precipitation to fill the lake faster than it can drain
away. Geologists suspect that this hole, which is
not very big, isn’t just some random opening in the ground. Instead, they think it leads to a collapsed
lava tube. Lava tubes are natural tunnels that form as
lava flows down the slopes of a volcano. The lava’s outer layer cools into a hard
crust, but the inner layers are still molten and
they continue to flow downhill. That drains the tube and leaves behind a hollow
channel. The lava tube under the Lost Lake formed over
12,000 years ago, and it carries water from the lake into the
McKenzie River. From there, it ends up more than 9 kilometers
from where it started, in Oregon’s Clear Lake. Besides being super cool, this shows us that
bodies of water aren’t just connected by the usual avenues,
like rivers and streams. Ancient volcanic tunnels are still shaping
the way water travels today. Next, in the Patagonia region of Chile, another
disappearing lake performs its vanishing act on a much less
predictable schedule. Lago Cachet Dos is a glacial lake that fills
with melting ice from the Colonia Glacier. Normally, this glacier acts as a dam to keep
the lake in place. But if the lake gets too full, things reach
a breaking point. As the lake fills and water pressure builds,
water can start wearing through the ice. And eventually, the water bores through a
weak area at the base of the glacier. That creates a channel that extends eight
kilometers underground until the water breaks through the other side
of the glacier. And then the whole lake comes rushing out
that tunnel! An event like this is called a glacial lake
outburst flood, or a GLOF. Back in 2012, a GLOF drained a whopping 200
million cubic meters of water in less than a day! That tripled the volume of the river it flowed
into. Luckily there aren’t too many people in
the area around it, but the flooded river did do some damage to
roads and farm animals. As the glacier moves, it collapses that underground
tunnel, and the lake fills back up, so the same process
can happen again and again. Lago Cachet Dos has drained over twenty times
in the last decade. And as climate change speeds up melting, the
number of GLOFs is likely to increase. GLOFs don’t just happen in Chile, though. These glacial lakes appear, and disappear,
in other mountain regions, like the Himalayas, the Alps, and even the
Rockies. So understanding how they and their outbursts are connected to climate conditions and other
waterways can help people stay safe from unexpected
floods in the regions around them. Finally, let’s bring it back to my home
state: Florida. Where there’s a third lake in Tallahassee
that’s famous for yet another type of dramatic disappearance. It’s called Lake Jackson, and it’s pretty flat and
shallow; honestly, it’s pretty boring at first glance. But if you look underneath the surface,
you’ll see something interesting: sinkholes. Lake Jackson has two sinkholes that drop down
more than 15 meters towards the Floridan Aquifer. They’re often plugged up with sediment,
which allows the lake to fill up. But it’s a fragile arrangement. Every once in a while, Lake Jackson gets enough
water through rain or runoff to break through those plugs and plunge through
the sinkholes into the aquifer. When that happens, the lake can empty in as
little as a day, draining up to 37,000 liters a minute. Then, over time, sediment naturally plugs
the sinkholes again, and the lake fills up. This has happened at least a dozen times since
1840, and, as catastrophic as it sounds, this rush of water is actually a good thing
for the local ecosystem. The draining kills off invasive plants and
even flushes out native ones, which can start to take up too much space,
too. During these dry periods, people can also
go in and remove pollutants that drain from urban areas and settle into a thick layer
of ‘muck’ on the bottom of the lake. So this unusual cycle of draining and refilling actually plays a pretty important role in
Lake Jackson’s ecosystem. Whether these lakes calmly come and go with
the seasons or drain suddenly in dramatic and unpredictable
events, the fact that they vanish and reappear reveals
surprising connections. Our waterways are joined by things as wide-ranging
as ancient volcanic activity and recurring sinkholes, which all contribute
to how water moves around today. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow!
And thank you to our patrons! It takes a lot of people to make a SciShow
video, and we couldn’t do it without your support. And if you’re interested in supporting us, you can head over to to
learn more. [♪ OUTRO]

Comments 100

  • There's a frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the lake

  • so you're saying climate change is natural and beneficial

  • lets frack the earth more and see if it helps . ugh.

  • So that first lake basically has a sewer before they invented sewers

  • Oh, this video is interesting for me because I just started making the animated video about water)

  • The lava tubes are 12000 years old right, around the same time the Greenland impact happened.

  • Came to tell you about my local lake that does this but there's already two comments right on top about it so I guess you get a lot of Slovenian viewers.

  • Climate change and draining the swamp in one video?

  • in oregon there are a couple of lakes named lost lake, and they kept showing photos of the wrong one

  • HE'S FROM FLORIDA! (Don't feel bad, I am too!)

  • Lake Peigneur is a great example of human involvement leading to the direct cause of a lake's alteration.

  • If you are ever in the Bend, OR area, going to Lost Lake is a must. I have live in Oregon my entire life and it’s a beautiful hike.

  • Hank's home state is Florida? I won't look at him the same now

  • The 1989 Earthquake near San Francisco opened cracks that drained lakes in the hills along the Pacific. Also, some lakes sloshed out. The various draining waters added to existing lakes or formed new ones.

  • You had me until the climate change talking point

  • my home state is Florida too! and i've never even heard of lake jackson. i lived in orlando so that might be why.

  • How do you go thru all the effort of pronouncing lago cachet… but then butcher the pronunciation of Chile.

  • The California delta will be disappearing now that more freshwater is pumped to other places instead of a desalination plant

  • So no one has gone spelunking in the hole at the first lake? Do it!

  • I visited Lost Lake once, and I didn't know this. The part of the lake we visited looked more like a pond, and was pretty dirty with animal feces. I stayed away from the water.

  • Hey, SciShow, if you EVER want to earn MY support, that will ONLY happen after you STOP treating 'Climate Change' as a "given." IT IS NOT. 'Global Warming' is a fad and a HOAX, supported only by FALSIFIED DATA and circular (un)reasoning. QUIT SPREADING LIES.

  • Lake Jackson is flat and boring ?
    Say it ain't so !!

  • In Minnesota, after every winter, another lake shows up… we can only that it would disappear.

  • We have a small lake near where I live that appears only every few years after long periods of rain. The geology is karsty, and usually the ground water level stays below the surface. But drainage is limited, and when there is a lot of flow, the lake appears.

  • Hank it's your wife that has the balls

  • So with that constantly draining lake – does that mean there is just tons of fish at the bottom of the sinkholes, slowly decaying.

  • Dragonball – the roaming lake

  • Payne's Prairie just south of Gainesville FL has La Chua sink at it's north east end which drains into the Florida Aquafier. It was a prairie when I went to UF. Ever since Hurricane Irma it's been flooded and the ecosystem has transitioned back into a huge lake. You drive over it on I-75 and 441

  • Was it your mom?

  • I live in the NW and there are 2 or 3 of these lava tube seasonal lakes, I have always been told they do not drain in the winter due to water freezing into a plug somewhere deep in the lava tube then thawing and unplugging it in spring

  • Anyone up for a lava tube cave dive?

  • You really like to talk, don't you? How about some film?

  • One of the major forms of GLOF is the Scablands of the northwest USA where giant glacial lakes broke through their Ice Age glacier plugs again and again, literally boring holes into rock as the huge tsunamis generated roared west to the Pacific Ocean. There is a series of YouTube videos about this. Very interesting!

  • Woo hoo! Lost Lake Oregon mentioned! It's a pretty place to visit. Watch for mosquitos.

  • Another one is Mountain Lake in Virginia, USA. I would post the link to its wiki page, but YT has to be jerks about such things.

  • Damn aliens stealing our lakes

  • Sometimes fracking does that too

  • 12 Kya 🤔 a lava tube connected a river and a lake in Oregon?
    The same time period that ice age ended and the earth's magnetic field flipped and the earth went through a pretty major cataclysmic event

  • Oh look another sci show episode with a shameless climate change plug

  • What kind of sign language are you using?

  • Amazing work.

  • I wish that scishow used both metric and imperial measurements

  • I keep telling myself to stop watching sci-show videos, and then your consistently interesting topics suck me back in, whereupon I am inevitably disappointed anew. I mean, you're using a visual medium, but all we ever get is a precious few still images, a lot of talking head (well, torso), and some screens of text which are nothing more than a transcript of the narration. Hopefully I'll be able to stick to my guns in the future in hopes there will one day be more to these. So far I've resisted the urge to tell YouTube to stop recommending them.

  • Lake Jackson and other "perched" lakes do not just drain during wet periods. The last time it drained it was during an extended dry spell. If the groundwater underneath the silt plug drops far enough the aquifer water is no longer helping support it and the billions of pounds of water above collapses the plug. A few years later I went to one of the many public boat ramps on the lake (Crowder Landing) and the concrete ramp was still 100 yards from the water's edge. It took a few wetter than average years for the lake to come back to full pool.

  • God is probably trying to fix his mistakes during the coding of earth, but what he can't easily code away is us humans

  • Ah Florida man education me 🙂

  • that lava tube drain is super cool

  • Thank you so much for saying Oregon right.

  • Thicker sits on top of thinner for liquids there sci show

  • I wouldn't want to be swimming in those bodies of water on those day 😊 Or be a fish that lives in them

  • On a side note: Lake Peigneur is interesting one too but for a very different reason; it was man-made disaster. In November 1980, an oil drilling rig on the freshwater lake tapped into a salt mine underneath. The salt , of course, dissolved by the incoming water and made an every widening sinkhole that eventually drained the lake dry and taking the oil rig and everything else on the lake with it. Surprisingly, the only reported fatalities were three dogs. Everyone in the mine and on the lake that day survived.

  • So show us instead of talking us to death! Clickbait!

  • As smart as this guy or group think they are. Seems the are still fooled by the idea the climate is changing. Asshats……

  • Damaged farm animal?

  • The video started out cool. Then once you mentioned the climate change hoax for glacial melt you lost me. Have a great day.

  • Aquifer – der Grundwasserleiter.
    Bitteschön. 😛
    Thanks for a new word. ^^

  • So, Hank, you're in Montana now and you don't even mention the biggest GLOF's in North American history: the Missoula Floods? Your'e a glacially cold badman if you don't mention the Badlands! (And, just who was Miss Oula, anyway?)

  • I liked because you deserve it but would have been even better if you had some sort time lapse videos of the lakes draining/filling. Keep making videos thank you!

  • Looks to me like natures aquarium without a filter kind of arrangement

  • I'm sorry Lake Jackson..

  • NB. @ 0:52 we notice how flat the water is HOW FLAT THE EARTH IS the reflection would show earths curvature IF there was any!!!

  • Something doesn’t add up with your facts about lake Jackson. At 5:00 you say it drains at a rate of 37,000 l/min, which is 5.3×10^7 l/day, which is 5.3×10^4 m^3/day, but lake Jackson is about 16 km^2 in surface area and if we assume an average depth of 10 m (you said it was “shallow”) that’s 1.6×10^9 m^3 volume, so the lake would take over 3000 days to drain at that rate.
    Did I drop a power of 10 somewhere? Even if the average depth is only 1 meter (which I would call very shallow, but whatever…) that’s still most of a year for the lake to drain, and presumably there is rain falling throughout the course of the year to keep filling it up.

  • Have any scientists sent anything down that lava tube in the first one in oregon to see for certain where it goes? Have any ballsy scuba divers swam through it?

  • An episode of disappearing lakes and no mention of the Grüner See (Green Lake <- that name alone, Hank 😉 ) in Austria? Admittedly it does not completely disappear, in the winter the depth is still 1 meter (3ft) but in the spring and summer the glaciers melt and the water level raises to around 12 m, submerging the whole park – benches, trails and bridges – in its emerald coloured, but still clear waters. It's really a spectacle.

  • I am honestly freaking surprised that FLORIDA produced such a genius…🤯

  • I'm sorry Lake Jackson
    (I am for real)
    Never meant to drain your water dry
    I've apologized a thousand times 🎶

  • So does that mean there's a underground river? That's pretty cool

  • Lake: self drains
    The left: OMG the sun dried up a whole lake, climate change REEEEE
    Lake: returns the next season
    The left: OMG the polar ice caps melted and filled a whole lake REEEEE

  • This is fascinating stuff so i did some of my own research. That first pic of lost lake and Mt Hood is awesome but there's more than one lost lake in oregon. The one you're talking about is 65 miles (100 km) south by Mt Washington and you can't see any stratovolcanoes from there–the surrounding hills block the view.

  • Smell the glof

  • Again in Florida, just south of Gainsville, is a n area called Payne's Prairie. In the 1800's it was a lake, but then draimed. It is now refilling.

  • There is a really fascinating one in Japan as well

  • Where's Olivia?

  • Hank is “a Florida Man”. Yay!

  • I hate the way he speaks. He makes science annoying.

  • A 2 meter hole? That's about the size of a womp rat.

  • As soon as I saw the title I thought lake Jackson could be in this as a Tallahassee native, how awesomely surprised was I to actually see it in the video! So strangely proud! I remember this happening in the 90s and it blew my mind this huge lake we skied on was just gone!

  • Come to Slovenia, we've got one or two right now during rain rainy season

  • The difference in word sizing on the screen is annoying.

  • I'm from Tallahassee! We kayaked around Lake Jackson all the time, I never knew it had sinkholes in it. But there are tons of sinkholes all over Tallahasse and the panhandle, so no surprise there!

  • What about the fishes in the lakes?

  • Lake George (Weerewa) north of Canberra, famously appears and disappears but over a much longer timescale due to wet and dry decades and evaporation. When I first passed it in 1964 it was up to the road but rarely since then.

  • Lake George in inner Australia goes through a disappearing act of its own however it's on a bit of a longer scale from what I've been told by my mum and relatives it used to take up 25Km length and 10Km width now it only takes up around 10% of its former size due to the soil absorbing the water and spitting it back up over a random period my mum said it was full everytime they went down to Canberra until around "83-84 when it was near bone dry and has gone through different levels of volume in the last 30 somthing odd years an intresting lake imo I've never seen it full but i have seen it around halfway

  • What's a meter? Use feet please.

  • no wonder i never catch any fishes there when i go fishing.

  • You forgot about Mountain Lake… the lake from Dirty Dancing… It does the same thing as the last one

  • Eastern Oregon is hot and dry af, especially near the Idaho boarder. Do you know about what you speak? Doubtful.

  • Little dude thinks he knows squat

    water go down the hooooooole … water came BAAAAACK

  • The biggest lake in Australia is Lake Eyre / Kati Thanda , caused by a massive basin (formed by tectonic forces) that is significantly below sea level. Full sized, it's approximately 9,500km2.

    It shrinks through both drainage & a lot of evaporation: South Australia is the hottest & driest part of the hottest & driest continent on Earth. (If you don't include Antarcticas ice.)

    It's famous for both it's staggering diversity of bird life & a local algae which can stain the water pink. There are images taken from the space shuttle showing just how amazingly saturated this color can get.

    During dry periods, huge areas of the lake dry out to become vast salt flats of shimmering snow white salt.

  • Maybe they could put a hydropower generator(s) in that hole? You could harness a lot of free hydropower electric power when that large lake empties out.

  • climate change is a wealth relocating skim created bye the Global cabal example al gore worth 400 million dollars today his wealth has tripled since he was vice president under bush JR

  • Decaf Dude… Decaf.

  • Most of Oregon is hot and dry in the summer. The eastern side of the state is both those.

  • I'm surprised you didn't mention Endorheic lakes like Lake George or Lake Eyre in Australia which are well known for their vanishing acts only to reappear again.

  • Just put a large steel plate over the hole.

  • @mexicocity

  • This is just Mother Earth playing peek-a-boo

  • Rofl, I saw that florida cringe.

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