Are Tofino's hot springs running cold after earthquake?

There are conflicting reports about whether or not an earthquake earlier this week cooled the thermal waters at hot springs north of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Some locals say hot springs were affected by recent earthquake, but others deny that

Bathers at Hot Springs Cove were able to take a cool dip in the sea after partaking in the hot springs. (Trip Advisor)

There are conflicting reports about whether or not an earthquake earlier this week cooled the thermal waters at hot springs north of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

After the 4.8 magnitude quake hit 18 kilometres east-northeast of Tofino on Wednesday, no damage was reported to buildings.

Then on Friday, people living near Hot Springs Cove at the north end of Clayoquot Sound told CBC News the temperature of the water in the thermal springs had dropped significantly.   

Bernard Charleson said when he put his hand over the hot springs source earlier this week  the water was cool — and the sulphur smell was gone.

Charleson, who is a Hesquiaht First Nation emergency co-ordinator, blamed the change on Wednesday's earthquake.

Water hot again say reports

The story was first reported by a local First Nations newspaper, Ha-Shilth-Sa,  which is now reporting that Charleson returned to the hot springs later on Friday morning and found the water to be hot.

The hot springs in Maquinna Provincial Marine Park, north of Tofino, turned cold after an earthquake earlier this week. (Robby Cristian/Trip Advisor)

Others who live in the area also said the hot water is flowing, and there has been no apparent change since the earthquake.

The hot springs, which are located about 33 kilometres northwest of Tofino, have long been a popular destination for tourists, who often fly or boat in for the day.

Ocean Simone Shine, the manager of Ocean Outfitters in Tofino, said a tour group visited the hot springs on Thursday and they were hot and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Adam Buskard, who owns the Tofino Times Magazine told CBC News he was at the hot springs on Friday and the water is running hot, as normal.

Deep fault heats water

If the water was cooled by the earthquake, even temporarily, it would not be the first time that has happened.

In 2012, an earthquake near Haida Gwaii also shut off the water at some popular hot springs, but Parks Canada officials said the heat has been slowly returning to water there.

It remains unclear what happened to the thermal water source after the recent quake, but officials from Tofino are expect to be at the springs on Friday to do tests on the water temperature and sulphur levels.

The hot springs in the Tofino area have been a popular destination for tourists and locals. (Robby Cristian/Trip Advisor)

According to B.C. Parks the hot springs are created by surface water flowing though a fault in the earth's crust to a depth of about five kilometres.

The water is heated to a temperature of 109 C and then forced back to the surface by hydrostatic pressure, where it is discharged through a fissure at a temperature of about 50 C.

Google Maps: Hot Springs Cove, Vancouver Island


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