Giant earth crack drains a lake in Iceland which reappears years later

Icelanders are accustomed to their land being stretched, split, and torn by violent earthquakes and haphazardly rebuilt by exploding volcanoes.

But everyone was surprised when a large lake began to disappear into a long fissure created by one of last summer’s earthquakes.

Lake Kleifarvatn, Lake Kleifarvatn fissure, Lake Kleifarvatn crack, earthquake creates crack at Lake Kleifarvatn, Lake Kleifarvatn disappearing, Lake Kleifarvatn draining
Sabrina Matzger

And if you put your ear to the ground, you could even hear the lake draining … Like water going down the sink.

The giant fissure measured about a foot wide and 400 meters (1,280 feet) long and led directly into Lake Kleifarvatn before disappearing beneath the water.

And through the crack, lake Kleifarvatn was draining at about one centimeter (one-third of an inch) a day.

Lake Kleifarvatn, Lake Kleifarvatn fissure, Lake Kleifarvatn crack, earthquake creates crack at Lake Kleifarvatn, Lake Kleifarvatn disappearing, Lake Kleifarvatn draining
Bill Minter

So what created this giant fissure?

The phenomenon behind the large fissure at Lake Kleifarvatn is an enigma.

The earthquake thought to be responsible for the fissure at Lake Kleifarvatn occurred last year on June 17, 2001 about 80 kilometers (49 miles) east in the South Icelandic seismic zone.

But the water has returned since then:

This lake dramatic disappearance is, at least, unexpected and interesting. The last time a similar event happened was in 1912, after a magnitude 7 earthquake, and it took about three decades for the water level to normalize, she said.

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