The New York's Eternal Flame Falls

Spread across the world, there are hundreds of 'natural' eternal flames, and each one is thought to be kept alight by natural gas produced from the rocks beneath it. The gas used to keep the flames burning is thought to come from ancient and extremely hot rocks called shale. However, Eternal Flame Falls which located in the Shale Creek Preserve, a section of the Chestnut Ridge Park is one of the most unique eternal flames because it's hidden behind waterfalls in western New York. A small grotto at the waterfall's base emits natural gas, so it can be lit to produce a small flame and interestingly it's visible nearly year round. According to local legend, it has been lit thousands of years ago by Native Americans.

Eternal Flame Falls in New York

Eternal Flame Falls is highly dependent on rainfall and melt water. It is usually only flowing in early spring, or after long bouts of heavy rain. It reaches 30 ft high, cascading over sloping shale in two segments. The top is a narrow cascade over limestone, nearly 8 ft high. The second tier spreads out more than twice the width as it cascades over shale. A small grotto, 5 ft up from the creek bed, to the right houses the natural gas spring that can be ignited to create a flame of 4-8 inches in height. When flow is high, the water pours over the grotto, covering the flame and diffusing the light like a lampshade.

For years, scientists thought that the eternal flame in New York was kept alight by gas produced by ancient, extremely hot rocks. However, Arndt Schimmelmann and the researchers from Indiana University have discovered that the rocks underneath the Chestnut Ridge County Park aren't hot enough to produce this gas.

Schimmelmann said that the rocks were only the temperature of a 'cup of tea'. Plus, the shale isn't as old as first expected. Both of these factors mean that the shale beneath the New York flame couldn't be creating gas in the same way as other flames around the world, which means another process is producing the gas that's keeping the flame burning. And the researchers admitted they have not been able to identify exactly what the process is, and unsure exactly how the New York gas is being produced.

Eternal Flame Falls featured in the book Secret Places written by Bruce Kershner which claims there is "elf" sightings around the falls.


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