Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Valley of Geysers, A Natural Wonder in Kamchatka Russia

The Valley of Geysers is a geyser field on Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, and has the second largest concentration of geysers in the world. This six kilometers  long basin with around 90 geysers and various hot springs is located on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, mainly on the left bank of the ever-deepening “Geysernaya River”, into which geothermal waters flow from a fairly young stratovolcano, Kikhpinych. It is part of the “Kronotsky Nature Reserve”, which, in turn, is included into the World Heritage Site "Volcanoes of Kamchatka" and temperatures have been found to be 250 °C, 500 m below the caldera ground. The valley is one of the rare places in the world where geysers occur naturally, along with Yellowstone National Park in the United States and sites in Iceland, Chile, and New Zealand. The access to valley is extremely difficult; you can reach with helicopters available the only feasible means of transport.

In 1942 a local scientist “Tatyan Ustinova” has discovered the "pulsating" geysers of Kamchatka. Therefore, she revealed her findings after 14 years later and little exploration of the area until 1972. As the time goes, an idea was introduced to get systematic survey to be done in mid-1970 and later on, an automatic monitoring system was introduced in 1990. Out of hundreds geysers, only 30 geysers were given names. Hence one of massive geyser “Velikan” is capable of generating a jet of water reaching up to 130 feet. So, in the early 1980’s the area was promoted across the USSR, and popularity increase in the tourist magnets of Kamchatka and Russian Far East. However, foreigner visitors were permitted into valley in 1990. Almost more than 3000 tourists visited valley of Geysers annually.  The valley is an extremely paradise, steaming waterfalls cascade down the valley walls; grassy banks breathe with life; geysers erupts jets of boiling water; and bubbling mud pots gurgle and pop. Beautiful multicolored clays and algae- matted waterslides mark the landscape, and wafting aromas bear witness to sulfur-belching springs.

The Valley of Geysers has seriously suffered from the landslide on June 3, 2007, a gigantic mudflow inundated two thirds of the valley witnessed an exclusive natural event, but the consequences of such a natural catastrophe are irreversible. Therefore, the World Heritage Site has also expressed its deep concern over the issue. In fact this was a tragic event for humankind, in that we have lost one of the best rare natural wonders of the world. On June 5 2007, it was reported that a thermal lake is forming above the valley due to the landslide occurred while the documentary Wild Russia was filmed; it features footage of before and after the disaster. The extent of long-lasting change is not yet clear, but may be less than was originally thought. As of June 9, 2007, waters have receded to some extent, revealing some of the inundated features. Velikan (Giant) Geyser, one of the field's largest, was not buried in the slide and has in recent times been observed to be active. In 2008 the Valley of Geysers was elected as one of seven Wonders of Russia, because of several thousand people visit the Valley every year because of its remote location and reserve status. Nonetheless, the Valley is still very alive and attracts a lot of interest from scientists and tourists.