The Eternal Flame Falls in the Shale Creek Preserve (which is a section of the Chestnut Ridge Park in New York) is truly a scientific mystery to mankind. The feature refers to a diminutive waterfall which has a small grotto at the base which is constantly producing flammable natural gas. The natural gas produced is enough to sustain a flame that never goes off, that is, it is almost eternal. However, the flame can be extinguished should one wish to do so.
What Produces the Flame?
Geologists from the Indiana University Bloomington and representatives from Italy conducted a study in 2013 to try to determine why the gas is being produced and how it affects the atmosphere. Findings showed that the gases produced have higher concentrations of ethane and propane gas compared to similar features in the world. Regarding methane gas, the evidence indicated that the grotto produces about 2.2 pounds of methane every day. Further, they determined that the gas originates from the Rhinestreet Shale which occurs about 1,300 feet below the surface.
The production of gas at the falls has been a mystery because the conditions for shale to produce gas are not met. Usually, shale must be hot for it to disintegrate into smaller gas molecules. However, the shale from which the Eternal Flames Fall draws its gas from is cool, shallow, and younger than common gas-producing shale.
At some point in time, the Eternal Falls was an obscure attraction with few people paying any attention or showing interest. However, recent times and exposure from the media has led to increased popularity of the marvelous feature. Consequently, the number of visitors has greatly increased. Things that have led to increased popularity include the inclusion of the falls in the book “Secret Places” by author Bruce Kershner. In addition, a Travel Channel series (hosted by Tory Belleci) also filmed the falls.
The Eternal Flame Falls have their uniqueness in the simple fact that they are, in a way, eternal. With a flame that is capable of burning for the entirely of time itself, there are few features in the world that come close. In addition, scientists are still baffled by how the gas is capable of being produced from the shale which is not only young but also surrounded by unsuitable temperature conditions. The only common thing about the flame is that it is small.
The area around the falls, the Chestnut Ridge Park, is full of flora and fauna. The most predominant tree species is the chestnut tree. Undergrowth at the base of the chestnut's wood is diverse and features plenty of animals and insects.
The increased popularity of the park in recent times has resulted in an increase in traffic from visitors. The people have contributed to negative outcomes associated with a large population. These impacts include pollution, vandalism, and destruction of the surrounding terrain among others. Most recently, developers wanted to clear an area in order to create a golf course. However, this move was blocked.