Tiny Mistake Made an Entire Lake Vanish in 3 Hours
You can find many picturesque lakes in Louisiana. But one of them stands out among all the others. This deep lake is calm and beautiful. But its origin is closely connected with the story of a large-scale disaster that changed the entire ecosystem.
A catastrophe that people managed to miraculously survive. And this disaster happened because of a mistake of just one person! To discover the incredible history of Lake Peigneur, let’s move back in time, to more than 40 years ago! So, it’s 1980. Early morning of November 21. Several workers start their shift — they continue searching for oil. A drill on an oil rig in the middle of the small Lake Peigneur is an important part of this process.
The depth of this lake is about 11 feet. If a grown-up person stands on its bottom and raises their hands, their fingers will reach the surface of the water. Everything goes without problems at first. But then, the drill stops. It seems to have jammed at the bottom. Workers try to free the drill, but they can’t do it. The engine gets overloaded, and people hear a few pops coming from below.
At this moment, the entire rig begins to lean toward the water. The workers on the platform realize that something terrible is happening, so they run to the shore. A strong rumble comes next. The colossal $5-million drilling rig with a height of a 15-story building is slowly sinking into the water. But the lake’s depth is no greater than a 1-story building! How is it possible?!
Imagine the water leaving your bathtub through the drain hole. The same thing is happening to the lake now. The drill has punched a small hole in the walls of a salt mine, whose tunnels run through the rock under the lake. And now, millions of gallons of water are pouring into these tunnels. The created pressure is ten times as great as that in a fire hydrant stream. The miners find out about the disaster.
While the water is flooding the tunnels, they’re trying to evacuate from the mine. Fifty people are making their way through the water and mud using mine carts. A slow elevator can only lift 8 people at a time. It takes 7 approaches to evacuate all the miners. Can you imagine how the people at the end of the line feel? The devastating flood is behind you, and several dozen people and one slow elevator are ahead. Fortunately, all the people manage to escape.
The water displaces the air from the mine, compressing it. First, it breaks through all the tunnels, and then it comes out from the ground in the form of geysers. But the disaster doesn’t end there. A large funnel forms in the middle of the lake. The hole is expanding, pulling more water inside. The land around the lake begins to crumble and fall into the mine.
Along with the soil, the funnel pulls in 11 barges, a tugboat, the entire oil platform, and many trees. The whole beach around the lake disappears. There’s so much water in the salt cave that the direction of the flow of the nearest river changes. Now, not only the lake but also the water from the surrounding area is flooding the mine.
The funnel is expanding. From the side, you can see the formation of a massive waterfall with a height of 164 feet — this is the height of a 16-story building! At this moment, it’s the highest waterfall in Louisiana. Fortunately, the destruction doesn’t last long.
Two days have passed. The mine is completely flooded. The funnel has disappeared. The water calms down. Several days ago, it was a shallow lake. Now it has a new bottom located at a depth of 200 feet! This changes the ecosystem forever. New species of fish and animals appear there.
The drilling company paid a fine of $45 million to compensate for the damage to all flooded enterprises. Of course, people investigated the cause of this disaster. It turned out that the engineer made a mistake in the maps. He used incorrect calculations to select the drilling coordinates and got to the salt mine.
There is another lake with a huge funnel inside. And it’s also artificial. But this time, people created it on purpose. Welcome to California, to Lake Berryessa. Previously, there was a small farming town of Monticello near the lake. In the last century, people built a dam here.
But during the rainy season, the water level in the lake rose and poured over the dam’s edges. Water flooded the land and washed away roads. You need to make the dam even higher to solve the problem, right? This is quite logical, but the town’s engineers thought of something better!
They dug a hole near the lake and covered its insides with concrete. It looks like a wide circular tunnel leading into the ground. During the rainy season, the level of the water rises high enough to reach the pit. And millions of gallons of water pour into it. It resembles a giant drain hole in the bathroom. All the water entering the hole travels through a horizontal tunnel and gets into the nearest bay.
This is an effective and practical invention and an excellent attraction for many tourists. Skateboarders also like to hang out here. When the water level is low, they gather at the bay, near the place where the water flows out. The round tunnel is an excellent playground for skateboarding.
We’re moving to the desert of Yemen. There, we’re also looking for a hole — but without a lake this time. This hole, the size of a basketball court, is in the middle of the desert. Scientists still don’t know what’s at the bottom of the hole or what formed it. But the locals are sure this pit is a portal to the underground world where evil spirits live. Even if you don’t believe in all this, the Giant Hole in Yemen can still scare you. Sometimes, strange, frightening sounds come from the depth of this black abyss. And there’s always an unpleasant smell of rotten eggs wafting out of there.
The hole is so dark it absorbs sunlight. You won’t see anything even if you point a flashlight inside. People have studied this place with the help of powerful optical lenses and drones, but they couldn’t see anything except the frightening darkness. From a distance, this place looks like a blob of black paint in the middle of a golden sandy canvas. Even now, the Giant Hole in Yemen is one of the most poorly studied and mysterious places on Earth.
But recently, a group of brave people got down to its bottom. They found mountain pearls, stalactites, snakes, and even waterfalls there! Scientists are trying to figure out how the hole appeared and how old it is. Some say that the hole was caused by construction works when geologists were drilling the soil in search of minerals. The drilling process made the surface of the ground collapse.
And now let’s visit another famous “hole” hidden under a huge amount of water. It’s the Mariana Trench! This is the deepest pit on Earth, located in the western Pacific Ocean near the Mariana Islands. It’s so deep it can fit one and a half Everests!
To dive to the bottom, you need special equipment that can withstand intense water pressure. It should be a sturdy bathyscaphe with an ample supply of oxygen. It’s expensive, but the trip is worth it. In the Mariana Trench, you can meet unique, strange creatures you will never see on the surface or in some other region of the ocean. Toxic crayfish and microorganisms feeding on a substance that looks like oil live here.
You can meet fish with transparent bodies and see their organs and skeleton. Creepy toothy monsters similar to anglerfish can swim by. These creatures seem fragile and harmless. But look at yourself — you’re inside a bathyscaphe made of alloys of several metals. Water pressure can turn an ordinary car into flatbread here. And these fish with transparent bodies swim as if they’re just hanging out in the pool!