Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Claire. Claire Wonders, “What do we know about the Devil’s Kettle? Do we have any theory where the water goes?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Claire!

Have you ever seen a waterfall? From small falls to grand ones like Niagara, these steep plunges are a sight to behold. Today’s Wonder of the Day is about a waterfall that’s puzzled humans for decades. It’s called Devil’s Kettle.

Devil’s Kettle is near Grand Marais, Minnesota, about a mile inland from Lake Superior. What’s so puzzling about this waterfall? Water there has a tendency to disappear. Or, at least, it seems to.

At the top of Devil’s Kettle, the Brule River splits in two. One stream flows over a cliff and into the pool below. The other flows into a hole in the rock. From there, it appears to go nowhere.

What happens to the water at Devil’s Kettle? That question seems like it should be easy to answer. Why not just drop an object into the hole and see where it comes out? Rest assured, people have tried—and objects vanish along with the water.

Over the years, many objects have been dropped into the water at the top of Devil’s Kettle. Sticks, ping pong balls, even GPS devices disappear, never to be found again. Local legends even report people sending TVs and a car into the abyss.

Many people have tried to explain what happens at Devil’s Kettle. One theory is that the water somehow flows back to the Mississippi River. Some people have said it might instead head to Canada. Others WONDER if it follows an underground tunnel to Lake Superior.

In 2017, though, a team of researchers solved the mystery. They measured the water flow at the top and bottom of Devil’s Kettle. What did they find? There was virtually no difference between the two measurements. Based on this, experts now think water disappears into the hole only to reemerge into the river from underground.

That explanation seems clear enough. But what about all the objects people have dropped into the water? Why didn’t they reemerge, too? Experts say it’s likely that most things dropped into the water disintegrate. Even if objects aren’t completely destroyed, the water is forceful enough to keep them submerged until they’re far downstream.

The mystery may be solved, but Devil’s Kettle is still fascinating to many people. And, of course, it’s just one of many beautiful waterfalls in our world. Which ones are you still curious about?

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

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