Signs of life have been detected at the hot springs in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve that dried up and went cold after Haida Gwaii was shaken by a major earthquake in late October.
After the 7.7-magnitude earthquake changed the natural plumbing and heating at the well-known hot springs, Parks Canada put heat-sensing devices in the area in the hope that a recovery was possible.
“[Wednesday], we found that the area that was heated in the past is still heated,” Ernie Gladstone, Gwaii Haanas field unit superintendent, said Thursday.
“The pools remain dry, but there’s water coming out of a crevice near one of the pools, right near the high tide line — and it’s definitely hot water. It’s so hot you can’t even hold your hand in it,” he said.
The highest water temperature recorded Wednesday was 60 degrees Celsius and the highest ground temperature was 21 C.
“It’s exciting to know there’s still thermal activity in the same places as in the past,” Gladstone said.
Before the earthquake, there were more than 26 hot springs and seeps on Hot Spring Island, running into four major pools.
The springs produced water ranging from 32 to 77 C.
The hot springs are close to a major fault system, with a warm reservoir several kilometres beneath the ground.
Parks Canada has talked to numerous experts and no one knows what will happen next, Gladstone said.
“This is a promising development, but the mystery of what will happen to the hot pools continues,” he said.
“We can’t confirm if this means the hot springs will be back to normal in the future. … We are hopeful that this is just the beginning.”
Parks Canada will monitor the situation, he said.
The island is known in the Haida language as Gandll K’in, meaning hot water. For centuries, the Haida people have considered the springs sacred and to have healing powers.
Jaalen Edenshaw, carver of the Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole, changed its design last month to include a figure named Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving, the supernatural being responsible for earthquakes on Haida Gwaii.
“Maybe I am hoping he will give the hot spring back to us,” Edenshaw said.
The Legacy Pole marks the 20th anniversary of an agreement that led to co-operative management of the area by the Haida Nation and Parks Canada.