The hot springs shut down after a strong earthquake interrupted the flow of hot water deep within the earth.
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A SHAKER AND A MOVER
On October 27th of 2012, on Moresby Island of Haida Gwaii (that is, the old Queen Charlotte Islands), a 7.7 magnitude (some sources say 7.8) earthquake occurred. And while it was the second largest quake in Canada’s modern history, no damage was reported to any human made structures on the archipelago, likely due to the use of wood as the main construction material. There was some devastation, however, to an old and culturally important site. The hot water tap on Hotspring Island was turned off.
Gandll K’in Gwaayaay (Hotspring Island) is part of Gwaii Haanas National Park and has been traditionally important in the area for generations. In the last little while, the island has become an important recreational spot for those looking for a natural hot springs experience on the wild, largely untouched, northwest coast of North America. Before heading to the hot spring, permission of the Haida Gwaii Watchmen was required and limited to small groups up to a maximum of 12 so as to preserve the overall special experience of the place. In fact, as of July 31, 2013 it prohibited to engage in:
Shortly after the earthquake, it was noticed that the pools and seeps on Hotspring Island were drying up. While it was hoped that this would be only temporary, the traditional soaks on the island remain dry. Hot water has been discovered coming to the surface a short distance away from the original location, but below the high tide level. This at least allows intrepid enthusiasts to rebuild a small pool at each low tide. The space does not allow for the 12 people at a time the largest of the old pools did, but makes a cozy spot for 2.
Unlike the seasonal fluctuations of such hot springs as Banff Upper Hot Springs, which are the result of variations in the amount of surface water making its way down to the geo thermal active area underground, the situation on Hotspring Island of Haida Gwaii is a structural change to the cracks and faults. These changes have interrupted and apparently changed the normal pathways the water takes to the surface. Those in the know say that the longer the traditional hot springs remain dry, the less likely the waters will return to them.
The hunt continues on Hotspring Island and area for new sources of hot water. And the hope is that instead of disappearing altogether, it will be more of a relocation – hopefully to an area unaffected by tides. For more information on all things hot springs read the Hot Springs Guide.
Were you fortunate enough to have enjoyed some time at Hotspring Island? Do you have any photos you would like to share?
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