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LAKE COUNTY HISTORY CHAPTER 13: THE UNDERGROUND RIVER

Something is going on inside Konocti. A third story comes from a feature article published in the magazine of the California Academy of Science by the writer, Juliane Poirier Locke: ‘…Inside Mt. Konocti’s cooled magma chambers the world’s largest cavern and tallest volcanic shaft may await discovery…’

In the 1990’s curious scientists dived and descended into an opening. They described a pulsing cycle during which a few minutes of vigorous bubbling alternated with modest bubbling. A strong water current helped push the divers upward toward the surface, while another current along the walls of the opening pulled downward into a lake bed fault. At about sixty-five feet into the hole, the narrow tube broadened out into a twenty-foot chasm where the water was forced through wet clay…. ‘

Lake County Historian, Henry Mauldin, reported, ‘Those who crawled into the cave (into Konocti) found it extended into a horizontal tunnel that ended abruptly at a vertical shaft. Painted cans and marked sticks dropped into the shaft never hit bottom. Days and weeks later the markers were found afloat in Clear Lake.’ That elusive shaft, never found as yet, may be the highest underground vertical drop on Earth; over two thousand feet straight down.’

In 2003, a resident of the area took a boat to Horseshoe Bend.

“Normally, the water coming from the rocks is below the level of the Lake. Yet I have seen water coming out of the rocks above the level of the Lake.”

A survey party explored the same place. Their leader reported what he heard.

“I had no knowledge of any fabled underground river coming from the mountain into Clear Lake. When I listened, I heard a faint rumble. The sound was as of churning water. Yet, the Lake at this same place was as calm and untroubled as a pond.”

The supposed vents send water into the Lake with force. It comes from somewhere in the mountain. The vents are real. There are two of them, and they were carefully measured.

In 1959 a Survey Party leader recorded, ‘When the larger opening flow was measured, it acted in rhythm as a clockwork. The water flowed for two minutes at maximum. Then it was less and flowed for six minutes at a much lesser rate.’

We know one of the vents is forty feet deep. The other vent is farther into the depths. A lead weighted rope, thrown into a hole, after a hundred feet, found no bottom.

How powerful is the flow? One man testified, “Even though the water has to push its way through twenty-five feet of water the strength and power of the flow were great enough to push away my rowboat.”

Powerful springs in Clear Lake come from Konocti. From where does the water come? The data only raised more questions. The mountainside is dry as dust. Is it from the Horse Shoe Bend outlet, or is it a natural geyser?

Here’s another conundrum, a little more technical, but as important. Clear Creek’s watershed drains from the west side of Konocti. It also drains from an area south of the mountain. That watershed totals twenty-six square miles. West of Cole Creek there is Adobe creek. There are almost the same twenty-four square miles of watershed under that location as Clear Lake’s watershed. Yet, there is a marked difference between the two watersheds.

The Adobe Creek watershed under the surface is made up of solid non-volcanic rock. As most streams, the Adobe Creek water mostly runs off and loses its water to tributaries. Why is it that Cole Creek with a slightly larger watershed of non-volcanic soil, with rainfall the same as Adobe Creek, only flows one-thirteenth as much as Cole Creek?

Next Week: An Answer to the Puzzle.

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

e-mail: genepaleno@gmail.com

Website: genepaleno.com

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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