Local residents are reporting that the Guacalito River has disappeared in the aftermath of three earthquakes that struck Costa Rica on July 12, 2011.
The US Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazard Program has confirmed that three earthquakes struck Costa Rica on July 12, 2011: a 5.0 magnitude earthquake, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake and a 5.6 magnitude earthquake.
While the earthquakes in Costa Rica were of moderate size, the area has sustained some damage according to Earthquake-Reports.
To many people’s surprise, the Guacalito River dried up to a muddy trickle after the earthquakes. Villagers believe that the water is being held up by a debris dam that was created by landslides triggered in the earthquakes. Presently, public officials are urging the dozens of curious onlookers to stay away from the riverbed due to the high possibility of future flooding.
Oddly, this isn’t the first time water has disappeared after an earthquake. Notably, a water reservoir in New Zealand lost 36 million liters of water after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on February 22, 2011.
Because damage to water supplies often co-occurs with earthquakes, similar to the situation in Costa Rica, health officials recommend that people prepare for emergencies in earthquake prone areas by storing enough water to supply each person or pet with 4 liters (1 gallon) of water per day for at least 3 days.
Deanna Conners is an Environmental Scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies. Her interest in toxicology stems from having grown up near the Love Canal Superfund Site in New York. Her current work is to provide high-quality scientific information to the public and decision-makers and to help build cross-disciplinary partnerships that help solve environmental problems. She writes about Earth science and nature conservation for EarthSky.