Every year Oregon’s Lost Lake fills up with water from snowmelt. And, every year the water disappears through a hole on the lake’s north side.

The Bulletin’s Scott Hammers recently talked to Jude McHugh, a spokeswoman with the Willamette National Forest. She says the hole has been there as long as anyone can remember.

The hole is an open lava tube. A lava tube forms as flowing lava continues to move as lava near the surface hardens. The lava under the surface exits the area before hardening, and a tube/cave is formed.

The image below illustrates how this works.

lava tube formation

Image credit: NFS

Watch as the water drains into the tube.

As for where the water is going? McHugh isn’t 100% sure. But, it probably drains into a massive aquifer that supplies water to springs throughout the area.

Local officials don’t want the hole plugged. Some have tried to plug the hole but have been unsuccessful.

If the hole were plugged, lake flooding would impact a nearby road according to McHugh.

The lava tube at Lost Lake is tiny. Check out some of these massive lava tubes from around the world.

Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii

thurston lava tube

Credit: NFS

Lava Beds National Monument in California



Credit: NFS

Surtshellir in Iceland

Surtshellir lava tube

Credit: Thomas Ruedas

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