The popular swimming hole at Hot Creek near Mammoth will remain closed to swimming this summer.
After a heavy snow year in 2006, geyser activity, where the hot springs bubble up in the middle of Hot Creek, picked up sending a stream of hot water six feet in the air. Four years have passed and locals say that the hot springs look normal again, but swimming holes remain closed.
Nancy Upham with the Forest Service reports that the geologists with the US Geological Survey still advise that the conditions at Hot Creek are unpredictable. With conditions that could change at any time, Upham says that Forest Service staff feels there is significant risk to safety to anyone who uses the hot springs.
The Hot Creek Geologic site is constantly changing, according to Dave Hill with the USGS. The underground hot water system that supplies the hot springs is a couple of hundred meters deep in that area. The water seeps to the surface through faults that cross the creek. As one crack seals up with sediment, the water pushes through to a new area.
Hot Creek has never been completely safe for swimming, but once closed, will land managers ever re-open the swimming area? Upham reports there are no foreseeable management changes at Hot Creek. The fence around the water will remain and bathers could still receive tickets for taking a soak.