ecuador used to be proud of its San Rafael waterfall that attracted people from outside. They would come to enjoy the sights but it has suddenly lost its charm. It has run dry because of a sinkhole that opened up below the bed of the river. This river was the source of water that once fed the falls and the result is a waterfall minus any trace of any water. Incidentally, this waterfall is the tallest in the country. Reasons for the sudden appearance of the sinkhole are shrouded in mystery. The government has launched an investigation. It has taken the authorities by surprise and, to start with, they imposed restrictions on access to the site of the falls and its adjacent regions.

Sinkholes mean a compromise of the strength of nearby underground structures due to some reason and detailed investigation is necessary to establish the cause.

Daily Mail UK says the problem might have links to a hydroelectric plant located a few miles upstream. An official has said – “A waterfall that has been there for thousands of years does not collapse, coincidentally, a few years after opening a hydroelectric project.” He is Emilio Cobo and he made these observations to Mongabay, a media outlet.

He added that a dam could give rise to such a situation.

Mystery of the sinkhole

A dam came up in the area a few years back. It was built by a Chinese company but it was not directly on the river. Scientists are always trying to find out more about the activities that occur below ground level and the effect they have on the surroundings.

In the opinion of geologist Alfredo Carrasco, it might have been because of seismic activity in the region.

Daily Mail UK quotes him as saying, “There are many quite intense earthquakes here.” He explains that such natural happenings can disturb the geological balance and feels the sinkhole was a natural phenomenon.

The fact remains that, irrespective of how it formed, the sinkhole will give a new shape of the region. The charm of the waterfall is lost. What was once a single river has transformed into three smaller streams. Each of them has created individual smaller waterfalls along the jungle ridge. These would mean a greater risk of landslides. Moreover, the new topography could pose threats to the ecosystem.

Ecuador loses its iconic waterfall to a sinkhole

According to CNN, Ecuador lost its iconic waterfall to a sinkhole. It is the San Rafael Waterfall on the Coca River and it was a prominent tourist destination for the country. Thousands of people used to Travel here annually to enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

However, the largest waterfall in the country has apparently "vanished" because a sinkhole swallowed a large portion of its source of water. NASA confirms the suspension of tourism to the site and adds that it is no longer a part of the travel website. It also says the government will not be reconstructing the falls. There are two opinions on the reason for the sinkhole to appear. One attributes it to natural causes, the other blames it on the construction of a hyrdoplant on the river.

A sinkhole can lead to unwanted situations

A sinkhole is usually the result of underground disturbances to rock formations. There is an instance of a tragedy when a sinkhole swallowed a deputy in Texas. His car ended up in a 12-foot deep hole filled with water.

In another incident in Florida, the timely discovery of a sinkhole foiled a possible bank heist. A sinkhole is usually a natural occurrence and has happened in the past but the disappearance of a waterfall in Ecuador due to a sinkhole is strange. It was a tourist attraction and the country will have to adjust to this loss.

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