Lake mysteriously disappears in Chile

UPDATED: 16:34, June 21, 2007

A lake in Chile's southern Andes has mysteriously disappeared, prompting scientists' speculation.

It was a glacial lake located in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park, with most of its water from melting glaciers.

It had a surface area of between 4 and 5 hectares (10-12 acres) -- about the size of 10 soccer pitches.

"In March we patrolled the area and everything was normal ... we went again in May and to our surprise we found the lake had completely disappeared," said Juan Jose Romero, regional director of Chile's National Forestry Corporation CONAF.

"No one knows what happened," he added, "The only things left were chunks of ice on the dry lake-bed and an enormous fissure."

Romero said a group of geologists and other experts would be sent to the area 2,000 kilometers southeast of the capital Santiago in the next few days to investigate.

One theory is the water disappeared through cracks in the lake bottom into underground fissures. But experts do not know why the cracks would have appeared because there have been no earthquakes reported in the area recently, despite Chile having been shaken by thousands of minor earth tremors this year.


People's Daily Online ---