Scientists think they've solved mystery of Devil's Kettle waterfall

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DNR hydrologists believe they solved the mystery of the Devil's Kettle waterfall. Photo Courtesy: Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources

The mystery of Devil's Kettle waterfall, which "disappears" into a hole in Judge C.R. Magney State Park near Grand Marais, has baffled Minnesotans for decades. But, scientists with the Minnesota Department of Resources think they may have finally solved it.

Devil’s Kettle is the most visited attraction at Judge C.R. Magney State Park. Above the falls, the Brule River splits in two, with one side acting as a typical waterfall, while the other plunges into a large hole in the rock and vanishes.

Hydrologists have a theory that the water from the waterfall re-enters the river from underground somewhere downstream.

After measuring nearly identical volumes of water flowing above and below Devil’s Kettle last fall, the hydrologists confirmed what they had long believed – that the water is resurging in the stream below the waterfall.

This fall, researchers plan to continue to study the waterfall and the items that “disappear” when visitors drop them in. They will conduct dye trace to show where the water resurfaces by pouring a vegetable-based dye into the pothole.

“The plunge pool below the kettle is an unbelievably powerful system of recirculating currents, capable of disintegrating material and holding it under water until it resurfaces at some point downstream,” Calvin Alexander, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, said in a news release.