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Underground Rivers, 2

Navajo Lake, Lava Flows

   There are proven underground rivers all over the world, but what about ones close to us here in the desert? Two good examples can be found right here in Southwestern Utah. Many of you have been to Zion National Park and many have even waded in the Virgin River. But do you know where the water for that river comes from?
    Have you ever heard of the Sevier River or maybe one of it contributaries, Mammoth Creek? Where does the water come from for this river/stream? Geology, and how these underground rivers form will be discussed here.

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Larry Schaibley's signature

   If you've read our article about the Largest Underground River in the desert Southwest then this should interest you! We are always continuing our search and research into these tales. Now maybe we can change or enforce your opinion of our previous story. We mentioned earlier that we'd never personally seen an underground river, well that's changed and we'll share this with you. The best part is that what we found if in the Southwestern United States. Not one, but three underground rivers that you can visit do exist in the desert Southwest.

   Now most of us do not have any first hand knowledge of underground rivers and have never seen one. This is understandable because they are for the most part hidden and out of sight, but a few are visible, or at least partially visible.
Navajo Lake
   At the Eastern end of Navajo Lake you'll see where an old lava flow ran into the valley and sealed off the lake's drainage. This is part of a much larger system of Malpais (Spanish word for lava flows like this) that envelopes the area on top of these mountains. The Lake elev. is just over 9,000 ft. The lake used to drain through this lava flow till they installed a dam just west of this end of the lake to hold back the water flow.
Lava Flows
Sink Holes


Sink Holes, Cascade Falls

   Here's a closer look at the lava flows that run down into the eastern end of the lake. You can see where water could escape and drain the lake. So where does the water go? Where does the water come from that fills the lake?
   This is one of the seeps in Deer Valley that helps to fill Navajo Lake. Snow melt and rain fill the depression in this meadow and then drain into the Lake. For a close-up ---

Mouse over the image to the right
then click on it.

Lava Flows, Malpais
   The tops of the mountains are covered for miles with mountains of lava flows like this. If you look closely at the close-up above you'll see that much of the meadows are underlain with lava stones that create the drainage holes. So do all underground rivers flow through these lava stones?
Cascade Falls
   Here we are at Cascade Falls, the outflow of Navajo Lake, the headwaters for the North fork of the Virgin River that flows through Zion National Park. As you can see here this is a rather large flow of water. The exit for outflow is a little over a mile from Navajo Lake. More info on this can be found HERE
Cascade Falls
   Right below the ridge in the photo to the left you can see the outflow from the limestone cliffs. You should also notice how far it is to the top of the cliffs, several hundred feet. More on this area and a video of the falls can be found HERE

Mammoth Creek, Mammoth Springs

Mammoth Creek
   Mammoth Creek runs into the Sevier River and is partly fed by Mammoth Springs. The Mammoth Springs found on topo maps is not the main source of water for the creek. As you can see here when there is a wet year the stream runs with a pretty heavy flow. This photo is in the campground at "Mammoth Springs". The actually supply of water is much farther up the canyon and only accessible by a long hike.
   USGS has done a study on this outflow and has determined that the stream may begin it's journey as far away as 8.5 miles. The complete study can be found HERE
   What does all this tell us? Anything is possible when it comes to the geology of this planet. If you find it hard to believe that a river could form and flow underground and through earthquake faults, well think again. If the rivers can flow through areas like the ones shown above then I'd say it's more then possible. So why haven't they been found and made use of? Simply because they are so hard to find. I'd imagine that it's something like foretelling when an earthquake will strike, or exactly where all the earth's faults are. They are finding new earthquake faults all the time. What do you think?

   Larry Schaibley has personally spent time in an underground river near Cancun, Mexico. A popular part of the tour in Cancun?