Major bubbling off Columbia Point

Blake Stacey wonders what this "persistent water splashy thing" off the UMass Harbor Walk is.



Uh oh

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I saw this in a movie. We're in serious trouble.

(Sorry for the snark- it is a pretty good question.)

The Chinese have finally

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The Chinese have finally tunneled through the earths core and are soon to be invading, but they made a miscalculation and need some subs. They and the reptilians have been working on it for quite some time. Get your tinfoil hats ready folk.

Gimme a break

I'm betting that some seafloor features are interacting with waves and tides, much like a surf break. You can get a really good look at the bottom of the harbor by putting Google maps on the satellite setting.


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I was there last Thursday morning. It is definitely something man-made. To be honest, my first through was that it was related to the pumping station, but then I remembered that the pumping station is no longer in operation.

My guess now is the answer above, the cooling plant of UMass.

My first reaction was the

My first reaction was the pumping station, too. Wonder if an old, unused pipe finally rusted through, and the sewer gas is geysering out, or something? (Yes, I AM a scientist, why do you ask?)

That looks nothing like a surf break

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Nor any kind of wave or tide action.

All of the above are directional. This thing is clearly spreading 360 degrees from whatever is happening underwater at center. And it's bubbling, as noted, not breaking.

some notes

First of all, we get a still picture, not a video.

Secondly, I could give you a list of places where spouts like the still photo happen naturally as a result of tides and wave action and things that are underwater. Most are on the Pacific coast, but a few are on the Atlantic coast. I surf, too, so I know how a break works and that it involves underwater topography interacting with tides and waves. Sometimes that gives you nice sets and a lot of fun rides. Sometimes it creates rips and spouts and water splashy things.

Finally, if this is a man-made drain or pump or the like, we will still be able to see it from the satellite view: Like So.


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Look, I like to give you some dap as a scientist, but you have to trust those who have observed the phenomenon, it's man made.

Also, when I went by it last week, it was not where it is seen in the satellite. It was closer to the access walkway near where the boom is.

I didn't say that you were wrong

I merely pointed out that one could see this on the satellite photos, regardless origin.

Also, the photo provides an extremely limited amount of information, and is a poor representation of what is going on. There are no real clues to location except that it is on Columbia Point. It looks like a spout. A video and a geographic clue like "south" or "east" would have between immensely leads confusing.

Good grief it's the only white water in the harbor

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There are no waves in the whole inner harbor in your Google maps link.
I can tell the water is coming from shore and flowing away even in that satellite image.

I'm familiar with certain blowhole or spout like conditions and certainly boils but, again, there has to be water movement. I see none except the man-made bubbling.

Yes it is a part of the UMass

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Yes it is a part of the UMass heating/cooling system. if I remember correctly from my time there, water is drawn into the system as coolant and then discharged (as seen in the photo). It actually has a negative impact on the health of the surrounding ecosystems which have been making a slow recovery over the past couple decades

Wild surmise: High tide issue?

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Columbia Point is landfill, just barely above high tide. The buildings have basements and sub-basements that twice a day are below the watertable (tides, etc.) and water needs to be pumped to keep everything dry and the hydrostatic pressure from damaging foundations or causing buildings to "float". The photo looks to have been taken at high tide, when the most intense dewatering would be taking place. So my entry for an explanation is that this is an outfall for the dewatering pumps. Sorry for the later entry.