Lost Lake is located in Central Oregon, a region well known for its volcanic landscape. But the lake is constantly losing water through a six-foot hole identified by scientists as a lava tube (video below).
Lava tubes are common in the area. They are formed when lava hardens at the surface but continues to flow downhill, toward Earth’s interior. If lava then flows out before hardening, the tunnel-like structure of the tube is created.
Willamette National Forrest spokeswoman Jude McHugh explained to The Bulletin that the lava tube at Lost Lake had been there for as long as anyone could remember.
“It fills up in the winter, when input exceeds the rate of draining, and then it goes dry and it’s a meadow,” McHugh said of the lake.
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Scientists remain uncertain where the water is draining to. Although McHugh acknowledged that it may run into some subterranean outlet, she stated that the most likely scenario is that it flows into an aquifer.
According to Oregon State University researchers, water levels in Lost Lake are at their highest in early spring, due to melting snow, and lowest at the end of summer. Researchers suggested that the lost water was re-emerging in Clear Lake.
McHugh said that unauthorized attempts had been made to block the lava tube by placing car parts and other objects in it.
“If anyone was ever successful at plugging it — which we’re not sure they could do — it would just result in the lake flooding, and the road; it’s an important part of how the road was designed,” McHugh said.