Devil’s Kettle Falls: The Falls to Nowhere

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As the Brule River enters the Northern Light Lake and continues its way into Lake Superior one of the most mysterious phenomena on Earth is working its magic. It is known as the Devil’s Kettle Falls, and it attracts curious tourists, geologists and hikers from all over the world.

Just north of the shore of Lake Superior, an enormous piece of rock  juts out and splits the Brule River into two smaller rivers. The east river continues its way to Lake Superior, and the other one (the west), falls into a wide hole and vanishes forever.

The general assumption was that there must be an exit point somewhere beneath Lake Superior, but huge amounts of dye, logs, ping pong balls, and even a car (according to one story,  though I’ve been there myself and can’t imagine how they could get a car up there) have been thrown inside the Devil’s Kettle to never be seen again.

This weird phenomenon gets even weirder. Considering the huge amounts of water pouring into the Devil’s Kettle every second, the idea of an underground broad river is pretty exciting; however, deep underground caves like these can only form in soft rock like limestone, and as every geologist can tell you, Northern Minnesota isn’t built of soft rocks.

In regions like Northern Minnesota, where the local rocks are rhyolite and basalt,  tectonic action will sometimes crush underground rock layers,  which is why the environment for water is permeable. Still, there is no evidence of a fault line there, and even if there were, the Devil can’t drink from the Brule River forever! Much debris is sent down the crevice by storms and erosion, sometimes as large as boulders and trees, so if the Kettle was an underground gravel bed, it would have clogged at some point. Some explain the disappearance of the objects in the Kettle by saying that there is a ‘pocket’ inside and that the objects stay trapped there. Still, so much stuff has been thrown in there (imagine every single tourist throwing something inside) that it probably would have clogged anyway.

Another hypothesis is that a lava tube formed under the falls millions of years ago in the subsurface layer of basalt. Lava tubes can be found in Hawaii as new basalt is created there by the islands’ volcanoes. According to this theory, over time, the pounding water of the waterfall eroded the rhyolite surface, opened the ancient lava tube, and flowed into it, which would ultimately provide access to Lake Superior’s floor. This theory is still problematic. The problem is that the rock composing the Devil’s Kettle is rhyolite, and lava tubes NEVER form in rhyolite, according to geologist John C. Green.

Still, geologists confirmed that the rock in that particular area alternates between layers of basalt and rhyolite, so maybe the lava tube is located in a layer of basalt, right? Unfortunately, no. The type of the local basalt is ‘flood basalt’. Flood basalt spreads out in flat sheets when ancient lava bubbles from fissures in the ground, and lava tubes only form in basalt flowing down the slope of the volcano, and yes, the geology in northern Minnesota somehow made exceptions to that rule, but still, no lava tubes has been found in the hundreds of exposed lava beds in that area.

So you see, no one knows where the water goes. And we can’t just throw in a waterproof GPS. GPS (Global Positioning System) is a network of about thirty satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 20,000 km (about 12,427 miles). The original purpose of the system was for military navigation, but nowadays pretty much any device can receive the radio signals those satellites broadcast. However, GPS devices generally only work on the surface. Another question: Why don’t we just drop a pack of scientists down there? In case you forgot, it’s 244 meters (800 feet) deep, and the water KEEPS going down there. So no, we can’t put people in there. Pressure, temperature, and many other factors make it impossible to do. Another idea: Why don’t we just drop in some camera that records? 1. It will break because of shocks  2. If it doesn’t break, at some point, water will get in it anyway, even if it’s the king of waterproofs. 3. The transmissions of the camera will be blocked by the rock. 4. It will be close to impossible to get somewhere with a camera and a long cable as the cable will get stuck everywhere (we aren’t trying to have everything wireless for no reason).

Long story short, scientists tried everything: huge amounts of dye paint, ping pong balls, logs, and tourists leave their trace by throwing things inside too, but nothing was ever found. There just isn’t an answer to this mystery (yet). So if one day you get lost in a forest somewhere and find  plenty of dye, ping pong balls, cameras and maybe a GPS or two, you should call a geologist right away to share the good news!

676 thoughts on “Devil’s Kettle Falls: The Falls to Nowhere

    • Jason Schlieger

      Well if only you knew anything (like reading the article would have taught you), then you’d know we don’t have indestructible waterproof GPS, and that GPS doesn’t really function for subsurface calculations

      Reply
  1. Chris Bates

    Morgan, yes.
    I assume it leads to an underground river that either has no surface exits, or ones that aren’t “right” to allow exit of objects. I’m guessing the dye is either watered down to nothing or filtered out. No safe way of really knowing, really

    Reply
  2. Mindie Klempner Koenig

    I am always fascinated with the number of people who comment on these stories who have obviously not read the article. It’s amazing that geologists and other scientists haven’t found the solution yet, but you…someone who couldn’t even be bothered to read the article and see why GPS hasn’t worked…have the answer.

    Reply
    • Terrance Lonergan

      If it has GPS, GSM, LBS, UMTS, or OTDOA, if it gets even remotely close to a tower it could ping. Giving a simple location. While GPS would not likly work in the long run, as so far proven, there are several kinds of positioning systems that act in GPS fashion that do not require satellites. Just linear algebra, or if three towers pinged, basic geometry to find location. EDIT: and*/or OTDOA.

      Reply
    • Guillermo Valle Pérez

      I’m sure there’s a clever way of doing this. Maybe some sort of radioactive thing that emits neutrinos that can go through any amount of rock, and with clever tracking techniques may be traceable. The problem would be the cost of the installations needed to trace it I suppose. Maybe.
      Also the point of the gps woudln’t be that it sends signals down there, but that it sends signals whenever it comes out. Maybe some robust system could be something like a device that emits some powerful thing once it reaches sunlight.

      Reply
    • Guillermo Valle Pérez

      I’m sure there’s a clever way of doing this. Maybe some sort of radioactive thing that emits neutrinos that can go through any amount of rock, and with clever tracking techniques may be traceable. The problem would be the cost of the installations needed to trace it I suppose. Maybe.
      Also the point of the gps woudln’t be that it sends signals down there, but that it sends signals whenever it comes out. Maybe some robust system could be something like a device that emits some powerful thing once it reaches sunlight.

      Reply
    • Jason Schlieger

      Terrance, i don’t have anything on your knowledge of positioning systems nor am i going to google this shit and learn right now, but why would you think that they don’t know of this? Or that they don’t know something about it you don’t? Or for all i understand, it’s a shitty reception area with no (relatively) nearby towers. Or, another thought, that it is not going to work through X meters of rhyolite and basalt with any real accuracy?

      Reply
    • Jason Schlieger

      Terrance, i don’t have anything on your knowledge of positioning systems nor am i going to google this shit and learn right now, but why would you think that they don’t know of this? Or that they don’t know something about it you don’t? Or for all i understand, it’s a shitty reception area with no (relatively) nearby towers. Or, another thought, that it is not going to work through X meters of rhyolite and basalt with any real accuracy?

      Reply
  3. David Macht

    I mean really, if we can send a camera system to Mars I am pretty sure a waterproof camera system attached to a rope can fill in the blanks. That is of course it is one of those so called mysterious that has an answer but the answer was never published because it could hurt the tourist attraction of the site therefore lowering the amount of revenue the site can generate if its secrets are revealed.

    Reply
    • Ian Rama

      did you realized how much force of pressure it should endure should if a camera be placed there? Or just the sheer centrifugal/centripetal force from that whirlpool? or lateral G forces?

      Reply
    • Ian Rama

      did you realized how much force of pressure it should endure should if a camera be placed there? Or just the sheer centrifugal/centripetal force from that whirlpool? or lateral G forces?

      Reply
  4. Deonte AlphaDog Bease

    Hmm I find that hard to believe especially with all of the technology that we have at Our disposal. We can view galaxy light years away but we can’t figure out where something goes when we throw it into a hole??? BULL SHIT!!!

    Reply
    • Jason Schlieger

      Ok, scientist, go show them how it’s done.
      I just can’t trust you know anything if you think this is just ‘a hole’. Or the differences in creating an indestructible waterproof camera that lights its own way while never getting caught among crevices or debris, and one that simply works in a vacuum.

      Reply
    • Jason Schlieger

      Ok, scientist, go show them how it’s done.
      I just can’t trust you know anything if you think this is just ‘a hole’. Or the differences in creating an indestructible waterproof camera that lights its own way while never getting caught among crevices or debris, and one that simply works in a vacuum.

      Reply
  5. Yeng Shoua Lor

    Perhaps the intense rotation of this rapid fall could possibly trigger a catatonic event where it is either a) a wormhole, b) a black hole, or c) a natural time “machine”. It could just also lead further into the ground where there may be a water reservoir, or even as the legend says, lead to hell itself.

    Reply
  6. Josef Wall

    Mindie Klempner Koenig I am always… I wish I knew a word other than surprised that describes the level of stupidity I’ve seen on the Internet when an article clearly states something. I love how many people know so much more than the physicists, geologists, biologists, and every ist in between. If they’re such knowitalls then why aren’t they the ones coming up the their own hypothesis, and trying to prove that?

    Reply
  7. Walter Preedy

    Saying that you cant send a camera down because water will get in it is stupid use science and invent the best water proof camera ever then send it down or buy me a deep sea diving suit tie a pice of string round me and ill go down lol or divert the river in to the lake for a fuew weeks and see if anything starts to dry up i like the 3rd idea my self lol

    Reply
  8. Jerem Fabro

    its all lies folks cause its only a picture of a clip video from the movie “jenifer’s body”, although there is real place called devil’s kettle there is no such thing as a mysterious hole that goes no where, sorry to spoil you :P peace

    Reply
  9. Garrett Fronk

    I love the comments from all the people that are clearly smarter than the Geologist’s that have studied here.. Also, clearly didn’t bother to read the article before inserting foot in mouth.

    Reply
  10. Aidan Devlin

    get someone who is suicidal and also a navigator, strap him with a GPS incase he dies, suit him up with oxygen tanks and a pressurised diving suit and get him to jump in.
    Fuck the ethical issues, claim he volunteered

    Reply
  11. Aidan Devlin

    get someone who is suicidal and also a navigator, strap him with a GPS incase he dies, suit him up with oxygen tanks and a pressurised diving suit and get him to jump in.
    Fuck the ethical issues, claim he volunteered

    Reply
  12. Mychal Garcia

    LOL, read the article, I have a solution! Send down travis pastrana in a giant capsule roughly the size of that hole, of course with gear necessary to survive, and a satellite phone. Has to be a really good capsule though.

    Reply
  13. Mychal Garcia

    LOL, read the article, I have a solution! Send down travis pastrana in a giant capsule roughly the size of that hole, of course with gear necessary to survive, and a satellite phone. Has to be a really good capsule though.

    Reply
  14. Ryan Mcanally

    Also send digital cameras down it with ultraviolet imaging. There has to be a way to transmit and that would at least make the headline of this topic change. Never seen from again too imaging and distances from.

    Reply
  15. Ryan Mcanally

    Also send digital cameras down it with ultraviolet imaging. There has to be a way to transmit and that would at least make the headline of this topic change. Never seen from again too imaging and distances from.

    Reply
  16. Hector A. Viales

    Reduce or completely obstruct the river that leads to this hole, have 100% of the river go to Lake Superior temporarily so we can explore the hole – anyone have a pack of beavers?

    Reply
  17. Hector A. Viales

    Reduce or completely obstruct the river that leads to this hole, have 100% of the river go to Lake Superior temporarily so we can explore the hole – anyone have a pack of beavers?

    Reply
  18. Wally Hull

    OK, Mark Clement – Google says this is about 14 hours from Ft. Wayne, Indiana and about 12 hours from Timmins, Ontario. Please give Phyllis and I a few months notice and we’ll meet you there.

    Reply
  19. Wally Hull

    OK, Mark Clement – Google says this is about 14 hours from Ft. Wayne, Indiana and about 12 hours from Timmins, Ontario. Please give Phyllis and I a few months notice and we’ll meet you there.

    Reply
  20. Jay Datura

    if getting inside was the only problem because of water then divert the water somewhere temporary… after that… exploration takes place… i wonder if there are any species of snail living inside that hole…

    Reply
  21. Jay Datura

    if getting inside was the only problem because of water then divert the water somewhere temporary… after that… exploration takes place… i wonder if there are any species of snail living inside that hole…

    Reply
  22. Jessy Bernard

    Nicolas : la photo vient du film d’horreur Jennifer’s Body, mais le vrai kettle existe reellement meme si ca ressemble en rien a la photo lol google it, ya meme pleins de videos amateur ou on voit la chute normale d’un bord, et lautre moitié de la rivière aller direct dans le trou! Cest fucked up parce qu’au nombre de touristes qui sont allé jeter des oranges, balle de ping pong, jouets flottants, etc, dans le trou, ya jamais aucun de ces trucs la qui a fini par ressortir dans la riviere ou lautre chute se deverse! Ca veux dire que leau ae ramasse vraiment pas au meme endroit moi ca m’intrigue en sale!

    Reply
  23. Jessy Bernard

    Nicolas : la photo vient du film d’horreur Jennifer’s Body, mais le vrai kettle existe reellement meme si ca ressemble en rien a la photo lol google it, ya meme pleins de videos amateur ou on voit la chute normale d’un bord, et lautre moitié de la rivière aller direct dans le trou! Cest fucked up parce qu’au nombre de touristes qui sont allé jeter des oranges, balle de ping pong, jouets flottants, etc, dans le trou, ya jamais aucun de ces trucs la qui a fini par ressortir dans la riviere ou lautre chute se deverse! Ca veux dire que leau ae ramasse vraiment pas au meme endroit moi ca m’intrigue en sale!

    Reply
  24. porgs

    So there is the answer of where should we throw our thrash??? trash that are thrown there will be lost forever… :P

    Reply
  25. Tara Lundrigan

    They don’t really need to anything expect stop throwing garbage into the water? I mean get over it, 3/4 of the fresh water on this planet is underground. This obviously contributes to that number.

    Reply
  26. Les Dempsey

    GPS devices will only work when they come out of the ground somewhere. they cant get a sat signal while underground. When they come out, they still need to float in order to get a cell signal to tell YOU where they are.

    Also, the image itself looks a little fake. too neat and clean of a wirlpool in that jagged rock environment. this is the only image I can find so far looking down the hole.

    the phenonenon itself is really cool though.

    Reply
  27. Rachel Cartwright

    Although there is a waterfall called Devil’s Kettle, that is not a real photo of it. This is a real photo of it. It shows real photos in the link, so I don’t know why you would use a fake photo here…

    Reply
  28. Lillian Scheffel-Visentin

    So basically, just throw a bunch of random junk in there and see what happens eh?:

    Long story short, scientists tried everything: huge amounts of dye paint, ping pong balls, logs, and tourists leave their trace by throwing things inside too, but nothing was ever found.

    Reply
  29. Ant Burry

    Is it just me or is there some grammatical error in this statement? Surely if you chucked nothing into it, then you haven’t actually thrown anything so there is nothing to see?

    Reply
  30. Dana

    they could temporarily redirect the water to where it splits so there is no water going down and then they could send cameras or even people down, might work. Ive read of and seen on a few shows where much bigger rivers have been redirected, again might work might not

    Reply
  31. Nick Dodson

    Actually, why not create a multi-mile line of carbon nano tubes with varies types of sensor beacons to measure everything from the structure, direction, wall density, and beyond, and feed it down there?

    Reply
  32. David Macht

    Folks one deep sea camera (you know the type used by James Cameron) will do the trick. Plus if you want an accurate measurement you put a sonar ping on the equipment and get lay out print using seismic monitors. Just saying that is all…

    Reply
  33. Connor Aho

    Hey what if we redirected the flow of water then explored the tunnel? I see no problem with it if as long as you put the river back on its orginal course afterwards.

    Reply
  34. Jeff Josef Hall

    Aquifer. USGS- “Basaltic rocks form most of the volcanic-rock aquifers mapped. These flows cover extensive areas in the northwestern United States and Hawaii. In places, the basaltic-rock aquifers are extremely thick. For example, those of the Columbia Plateau aquifer system in Washington are more than 2,544 meters thick in places, and those of the Snake River Plain aquifer system in Idaho are locally more than 800 meters thick. In most places, however, the thickness of these aquifers is 100 meters or less. Groundwater flow in the basaltic-rock aquifers is local to intermediate. In Idaho, the basaltic-rock aquifers are extremely permeable, and numerous large springs discharge several tens of cubic meters per second from them.”

    Reply
  35. Susan

    I would volunteer to go in there.. that is pretty cool.. but it has to go somewhere righht? cant wait till they acturally do send someone down there

    Reply
  36. SkOttie Bee

    So.. It must be the water supply for a large underground city, populated by an advanced technical humanoid, the same humanoids we think are aliens.. This is the only logical conclusion.

    #medoskience

    Reply
  37. SkOttie Bee

    So.. It must be the water supply for a large underground city, populated by an advanced technical humanoid, the same humanoids we think are aliens.. This is the only logical conclusion.

    #medoskience

    Reply
  38. Wondering in wisconsin

    Woods hole in Massachusetts would have equipment that would handle the job I’m sure. I wanna know where that sucker goes:) maybe it feeds ye ol faithful geyser in Wyoming ;)

    Reply
  39. Jay

    What type of effort has been put in to inquiring IF any unexplained dye or ping pong balls DID appear somewhere?

    Reply
  40. Charles Uttley

    I thought “AMAZING” all the way through… until reading that tourists are allowed to throw stuff down there. There WERE probably some cool things living down there lol… still, amazing :)

    Reply
  41. Sprocket

    Why not try the techniques that Egyptian archeologists are using to see possible old ruins/pyramid sites? It’s some type of ground penetration radar using satellites.

    Reply
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