stream sink

Sinking creeks lose their water to underground routes, usually through an observable stream sink, or swallowhole. Where the substrate is porous, entire streams drop underground to flow through caves and interstitial spaces in the rock. The streams’ reemergence, called a rise or resurgence, often produces substantial artesian springs, such as those in the Ozarks and Florida. Stream sinks abound in karst topography, where limestone solutions carve underground caverns. Lost River, Indiana, flows eight miles from sink to rise. Creeks may also sink into lava tubes and other holes in basalt. Another Lost River disappears into the Snake River Plain near Arco, Idaho, contributing to the dramatic Thousand Springs in the Snake River Canyon, hundreds of miles (and years) away. One of the most dramatic swallowholes is the Sinks of the Popo Agie River near Lander, Wyoming, and a magnificent resurgence is the Rise of Metolius near Sisters, Oregon.

Robert Michael Pyle

A creek that sank out of sight as many did in limestone country was a sinking creek, and hence a good name; in Wayne County, Kentucky, for example, there is Big Sinking, Little Sinking, and Cedar Sinking, all of the Big South Fork; there was, of course, too, a Little South Fork; across the Cumberland in an adjoining county there were Sinking Creek of Fishing Creek and Sinking Creek of Buck Creek, and on down the river were other Sinking Creeks.

— Harriett Simpson Arnow, Flowering of the Cumberland

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