Gwaii Haanas Superintendant Ernie Gladstone stands in an empty cliff pool after last weekend's earthquake off the coast of British Columbia. The hot water tap has been turned off at some idyllic springs on remote island off the Haida Gwaii coast following the weekend's powerful earthquake.

Hot springs vanish after B.C. earthquake

QUEEN CHARLOTTE, B.C. — The earth gives and the earth takes away.

QUEEN CHARLOTTE, B.C. — The earth gives and the earth takes away.

Mother Nature has apparently turned off the taps for a series of idyllic hot springs on a remote west coast B.C. island following Saturday’s 7.7 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks.

Four naturally-sourced pools on the tiny Hot Springs Island in Gwaii Haanas National Park, which have provided spiritual and medicinal comforts to locals and tourists for generations, have completely run dry.

“They were wonderful, you would sit up above the cliff and watch the whales frolicking in the distance while getting nice and warm in the pool,” said Barb Rowsell, a tour guide with Anvil Cove Charters.

“Now there’s no water, gone,” she said, adding perhaps it’s a warning nudge from the earth.

“’Hey you guys — behave yourselves a bit better. I’m going to take away some of your goodies.”

The springs, part of a Haida Heritage Site, have been used for decades by the local First Nations people to cook and gather seafood, and also because they are considered to offer healing properties. They were also known to alleviate the aches and pains of sailors and kayakers, sea-faring tourists and campers from the region, as well as commercial fishermen.

The pools were contained in rough-hewn, manmade stone walls and varied in size, with the smallest soaker just over two metres wide and the largest more than seven metres. Waders would find the water reached their waist.

Only 12 people are permitted on the island at a time.

Parks Supt. Ernie Gladstone took the three-hour zodiac boat journey to the island on Wednesday to investigate rumours the beloved wells had run dry.

“It was quite disturbing going ashore,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

“Normally when you approach the island you can see steam rising out of the pools, or rising out of the overflows or even some of the thermal meadows. But that was no longer visible.”

The epicentre of the main earthquake to rock the region on Saturday was about 30 to 40 kilometres from the island, Gladstone said. One aftershock, which had a magnitude between four and five, was less than one kilometre away.

“Right now we’re assuming this is a result of the earthquake activity over the weekend and subsequent aftershocks,” he said.

Tsunami warnings were initially issued throughout the techtonically active region that night, after violent jolting shook the sparsely-populated B.C. coast. The largest recorded wave to hit was 69 centimetres.

Members from the Canadian Geological Survey are now trying to determine more precisely why the springs have stopped flowing, how the earthquake may have been involved, and whether the plug is permanent.

Seismologist Michael Bostock said it’s very likely there was a change in the stress patterns underlying the region when the quake occurred, and that impacts how fluids migrate through the earth’s crust.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer mourns loss of philanthropist Gary W. Harris

Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre stands as lasting legacy to businessman’s generosity

Olds RCMP seize stolen trucks during execution of search warrant

A search by OLDS RCMP has resulted in the seizure of stolen… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP arrest two in relation to Normandeau robbery involving firearm

Red Deer RCMP have arrested and charged two people in connection with… Continue reading

Soroptimists celebrate International Women’s Day

Soroptimist International of Central Alberta presents awards

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

David Marsden: Hospital unfairness makes me ill

The provincial government clearly isn’t without money. If it was, it wouldn’t… Continue reading

Passengers leave ship docked off Japan after quarantine ends

YOKOHAMA, Japan — About 500 passengers left the cruise ship Diamond Princess… Continue reading

Quebec premier calls for federal ultimatum to end rail blockades within days

OTTAWA — Quebec’s premier says he wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to… Continue reading

Canada’s laws don’t apply to chiefs who oppose pipeline

Re: “Blame the chaos on Trudeau,” David Marsden, Opinion, Feb. 15. I… Continue reading

We should be getting more dairy and eggs at lower prices

The last time the federal Conservative party selected a new leader, three… Continue reading

New highway to B.C. proposed

The Howse Pass shortcut to British Columbia is worth taking another look… Continue reading

Stolen car provides opportunity to try out public transit

I had my car stolen on Jan. 10, just as our one… Continue reading

Most Read