The mystery of the river swallows everything

Rivers around the world flow into large lakes and into the ocean, but not in Minnesota, US. The Brule River is divided into halves, in which, one branch falls into the lake, while the other disappears in the Devil's Kettle pit.

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The Brule River stretches about 70 kilometers between the wilds in northeastern Minnesota, from Vista Lake to the Canadian border. The name Brule is derived from French, meaning "river of fire" - similar to the famous crème brûlée grilled cream. It appeared as a gift of an ancient forest fire. The river is a favorite place for freshwater salmon catchers or kayaks to cross waterfall.

In a state park called Judge C. R. Magney, the Brule flows the rumbling cascades into Superior Lake. At the waterfall, a rock divides the river into two halves. One branch falls into the lake, while the other disappears in the Devil's Kettle pit. No one knows where it flows and calls this the Earth's black hole. Locals told each other that a reckless visitor used to push the car into the pit and the car disappeared forever, or a young man used to swing the rope about 8 m into the pit but could not see the bottom.
Devil's Kettle
The Brule is divided into two halves on the waterfall, in which the right branch flows into the lake while the other branch enters the Devil's Kettle pit. Photo: August Schwerdfeger.
Many scientists have studied this phenomenon for decades but still have not reached conclusive conclusions. Biological watercolors, table tennis or logs ... were thrown into this large hole for experiments, and they never emerged on the Superior Lake.

One theory is that half of the river follows a section of the underground fault that flows somewhere under Superior Lake. However, critics argue that the crack needs to be directed to the right side of the lake, and even if it exists, it could be clogged with stones, sand, wood and other materials thrown into the pit over the years. Besides, there is no evidence of underground faults in this area. The existence of a large underground cave is also excluded since there are no signs of limestone forming.

Another theory was that millions of years ago, a volcanic lava cave appeared when the rocks hardened. But the rock at the waterfall is rhyolite volcanic rock, and the lava caves form only in basalt - the nearest layer of basalt is too far away.

In 2017, hydrological mapping expert Jeff Green and a number of researchers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) thought that the phenomenon that occurred at Devil's Kettle was an optical illusion. Green judged that the two branches of Brule flowed at almost the same speed, so the water flow was not halved but quickly reunited. As for items like table tennis or twigs that were thrown into the hole, Green posed the possibility that they were crushed or pulled down by the flow until they resurfaced at some point downstream.

These findings have so far been insufficient evidence and persuasion to the public. So what happens under the Devil's Kettle is still a mystery, attracting visitors here to see the waterfall or do their own experiments.

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