Thursday, 30 August 2018

Mount Katmai, Alsaka

Mount Katmai has long been recognized for its caldera collapse. Mount Katmai rises at the head of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes on the upper Alaska Peninsula, along the volcanic front of the Aleutian arc.  It’s a large compound stratovolcano that consisted of two contiguous cones, both beheaded by the caldera collapse of 1912.

Still many people don’t even hear its name. Mount Katmai is 6.3 miles in diameter with a central lake-filled caldera about 3 by 2 mi in area. Mount Katmai was formed during the massive Novarupta eruption in 1912. The sound of the explosion would be heard in Atlanta and St. Louis, and the fumes observed as far away as Denver, San Antonio, and Jamaica." (Robert F. Griggs, National Geographic Magazine, 1917, v. 81 no. 1, p. 50)

In June 1912, the most spectacular Alaskan eruption in recorded history and the 20th century's largest measured volcanic eruption formed a large summit caldera at Katmai volcano. The volcano has caused ten known fatalities due to gas exposure. The caldera rim reaches a maximum elevation of 6,716 feet. In 1975 the surface of the Crater Lake was at an elevation of about 4,220 feet, and the estimated elevation of the caldera floor is about 3,400 ft. The flows were still hot enough to release gases and boil water and would be until the 1980's

Mount Katmai is centered on the regional drainage divide, the edifice is amazingly asymmetrical. It was one of largest eruption in the 20th century, ejecting almost 30 cubic kilometers of ash and debris into the atmosphere. It is well beating 1991 Pinatubo by a factor of 3 in volume and, for comparison, 1980 Mt. St. Helens by a factor of 30.

The magnitude of the eruption can perhaps be best realized if one could imagine a similar outburst centered in New York City. All of Greater New York would be buried under from ten to fifteen feet of ash. Philadelphia would be covered by a foot of gray ash and would be in total darkness for sixty hours. And Washington and Buffalo would receive a quarter of an inch of ash, with a shorter period of darkness.

The mountain is located in Kodiak Island Borough, adjacent to its border with Lake and Peninsula Borough. The massive eruption happened at a vent about 10 km to the west of Mount Katmai. More than 60 hours, the volcano eruption took place 28 km³ of ash flows and tephra representing 13 km³ of magma volume. Mount Katmai consists mainly of lava flows, pyroclastic rocks, and non-welded to agglutinated air fall.

However, very little is known about the historical activity of Katmai volcano before 1912 eruption. The Quaternary volcanic rocks at Mount Katmai and nearby cones are less than 5,000 feet thick. Much of the volcano is mantled by snow and ice and some valley glaciers radiate out from the flanks. The gigantic eruption produced a cloud of suffocating gas and ash that blackened the sky for the inhabitants of the town of Kodiak. The ash falling on them were quickly led to the harbor and evacuated by boat.

In 1919, geologists noted a lake covering a large part of the caldera floor. However at the end of 1923 the lake was gone and many fumaroles, mud pots, and a large mud geyser had replaced it. Please keep in mind that Mount Katmai should not be climbed without mountaineering skills and equipment. Because high winds, regular rain and drizzle, brown bears, icy stream crossings, crevassed glaciers, and particularly its remoteness make the area a true wilderness. But it’s exhilarating and risky, occasionally wonderful, rarely comfortable, and never to be trifled with.

The withdrawal of magma beneath Katmai resulted in the collapse of the summit area, forming the caldera. After the subsidence, a small dacitic lava dome recognized as “Horseshoe Island” was emplaced on the floor of the caldera. That is the only juvenile material erupted from Katmai caldera during the historical eruption. It was visible at the time of the expedition in 1916.

After that it has since been submerged by the Crater Lake. Still, the eruption from Katmai had a VEI of 3, and possibly involved phreatic eruptions. The nearby Trident, Griggs, and Snowy Mountain volcanoes became active long before Mount Katmai, and activity at Mageik volcano began about the same time as at Katmai.

The massive eruption had a decadal impact of wildlife, affecting the spawning of salmon in the rivers near Novarupta for years. The Mount Katmai cluster was built on a set of rugged glaciated ridges, marine siltstone and sandstone of the Jurassic Naknek Formation. The lake has since refilled to a depth of over 800 feet. Moreover, small glaciers have also formed on a bench within the caldera beside the lake. Pumice still floats on Naknek Lake nearby.

Access is difficult because the Katmai cluster lies completely within the Roadless wilderness of Katmai National Park. The only convenient access is by boat or amphibious aircraft from King Salmon to Brooks Camp on Naknek Lake. The fascination with the eruption goes beyond the size of the event.

Modern geology had never seen the deposition of such a large ash flow sheet. So it was the first time geologists could examine first-hand how the sheet cools and welds after an eruption. Overall, the 1912 eruption shows how interconnected magmatic systems in a cluster of volcanoes might be. The area of the Alaska Peninsula is still sparsely populated, but important things occurred nearby actually, directly above: air traffic.

Not only would the trans-Pacific lines be affected by ash of a Novarupta-scale event, but the ash fallout distribution shows that the potential exists for air travel across much of Canada and the northern United States (especially Seattle, Portland, Vancouver) to be halted. Thankfully, the eruption only lasted 60 hours, but it took at least a week for the ash to settle out of the atmosphere.

Today, only infrequent earthquake swarms occur in the Katmai Cluster and many of the hydrothermal features created during the 1912 eruption are dead. However, the eruption at Novarupta does show the potential for a new colossal eruption to occur where none has happened in the geologically-recent past. Hence a reminder of how vital volcano monitoring and research can be in helping notice the signs of such an event well in advance.

Source: CP

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Alnwick Poison Garden

The Alnwick Garden is featuring intoxicating and poisonous plants.  A sign at The Alnwick Garden gate reads! “These Plants Can Kill”. The Alnwick’s boundaries are kept behind black iron gates, in which visitors are explicitly told not to stop and smell the flowers. The Poison Garden is home to 100 notorious killers. Due to the plants’ dangerous qualities, visitors are prohibited from smelling, touching or tasting any of them. Even though some plants are caged, and the garden is secured each evening behind gates under a 24-hour security watch. Any garden without people is lifeless and people have bought The Alnwick Garden to life and restored its soul.

The Poison Garden includes many species like, hemlock, Strychnos nux-vomica, foxglove, Ricinus communis, Atropa belladonna, Brugmansia and Laburnum. The main purpose of Poison Garden to aware the drug education, plantings of cannabis, coca and the opium poppy Papaver somniferum. The Alnwick Garden was established in February 2005 as just a portion of the ambitious 14-acre new gardens. The Poison Garden features different themed plantings designed around a central water cascade.

The Alnwick Garden is a complex of formal gardens nearby to Alnwick Castle in the town of Alnwick, Northumberland, England. The Alnwick Garden is contemporary pleasure place which brings joy to millions people. The Poison Garden is inspired with botanical gardens in Padua, dedicated completely to floras which are deadly and narcotic. The colorful plants are enticing visitors to wander through rows of fragrant roses, manicured topiaries and cascading fountains.

The ideal time to visit Poison Garden is spring season. Countless bulbs appear, heralding the start of new life. The Cherry Orchard is transformed a cloud of white cherry blossom, carpeted with thousands of alliums in a sea of purple. In 2017 The Alnwick Garden won “Northumberland’s top Large Visitor attraction”. The Alnwick Garden is most exciting contemporary gardens and a floral wonderland. But this isn't just an attraction for keen horticulturalists. The Poison Garden prides itself on being a place for families with lots of chances to get wet and play.

One can see acres of captivating plants, water sculptures. The landscape is eclectic, from the gentle waves of color and scent in the Rose Garden to the riotous, fascinating water displays of the centerpiece the Grand Cascade. The pergola-covered paths of the rose garden combine shrub and climbing roses with clematis and honeysuckle. The Ornamental Garden features the best of European garden design and planting.

The Alnwick Garden holds dangerous plants and many stories. One poisonous plant “Brugmansia”, or angel’s trumpet, that grows in the wild in South America. It’s an amazing aphrodisiac before it kills you. Just take a flower from the plant and add small amounts of its pollen to tea are an amazing way to die because it’s quite pain-free. A great killer is usually an incredible aphrodisiac.

According to the Poison Garden, Castor Oil, made from “Ricinus communis” is harmless. However, a single seed from the same plant can kill an adult in the most horrible way. The poison, Ricin causes much suffering in its victims (severe vomiting, nausea, convulsions and subsequent disintegration of the kidneys, liver and spleen).

It is also home to the Bamboo Labyrinth and one of the world's largest tree houses, with rope bridges. You may also find the looming Alnwick Castle strangely familiar, having seen it stand in as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. Visitors are often surprised to learn that the laurel hedge, nearly ubiquitous in English gardens, can be highly toxic.

So, be careful, don’t do anything silly, even with guidelines in place, visitors can fall victim to the plants. The Alnwick Garden is planned in several phases, some of which are still incomplete as heavy funds in the millions of pounds have not been as forthcoming lately. The Alnwick Garden is open every day from 10am to 7pm in summer; and in winter opening hours vary please check website for full details. Also Read: Rainbow Mountain
Source: CP

Friday, 17 August 2018

Rainbow Mountains China

Rainbow Mountains China had a hard time believing that this mind-blowing mountain formation was actually real. But believe it or not this Technicolor range actually exists. It is located inside of the Zhangye Danxia National Geopark 30km west of Zhangye City, Gansu Province, China. The park covers an area of 322 square km and contains 2 separate Danxia regions. Seven Colored Mountains and Ice Valley (Bing Gou Danxia) is its own separate park. The naturally formed landscape is alive with shades of green, orange, blue, emerald, red and yellow. There is a full seven differentiations of color. This exclusive feature has been given the monikers the eye candy of Zhangye and China’s Rainbow Mountains.

Approximately 24 million years of natural erosion brought out the mountain’s distinctive layers and dazzling colors. The multicolor layers of sandstone and minerals were pressed together and then buckled up by tectonic plates. A similar formation exists in British Columbia called “Rainbow Range” formed from a mixture of volcanic rock and various minerals. While Peru has the similar type multihued “Vinicna Mountains”. The mountains are famous for their otherworldly colors that mimic a rainbow painted over the tops of rolling mountains. Danxia was mapped by Chinese archaeologists in the 1920s and 1930s. It is remained relatively unknown outside of the region at that time.

The Rainbow Mountains was featured in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. It is the ultimate destination for many international and Chinese’s tourists. Some photographs are really incredible, may be manipulation going on to make the colors pop a bit more than they would naturally. The Rainbow Mountains China is a geological wonder of the world. However the mountains forms seem as if they could be man-made creations. But rainbow layer cookies or painted canvases and their coloration is a completely natural phenomenon.

There are lots of rocky landscapes in China referred to as “Danxia” because this translated means something along the lines of “rosy clouds”. The numerous rock formations similarly like an assortment of imaginary shapes like mythical creatures, castles, palaces and distant cities. Their beautiful peaks looking through the clouds and mist at times, display a mirage like scenery, of fantastical pavilions and mountains. However, when two of the earth’s plates collided, these mountains formed on this previously flat piece of land. The most common questions come in mind, how did the rainbow Mountains form?

How Did Rainbow Mountains China in the Geological Sense

Zhangye was formed under special geologic conditions, which involves various erosion activity, oxidation and tectonic plate activity. The effect is similar to a layer cake. Rain, wind and eons of time sculpted unique shapes that include pillars, ravines, towers with infinite patterns and sizes. Before the Himalayan Mountains formed, the Rainbow Mountains are cretaceous sandstones and siltstones that were deposited in China. The sand and silt was deposited with iron and trace minerals that give it with the vital ingredient to form the colors. Much like when two cars get in a wreck and the bumpers fold and break, a similar process folded what was once flat sandstones into the Rainbow Mountains we see today. This process uplifted mountains and exposed sedimentary rocks that were otherwise hidden well below the surface of the earth. Moreover, weathering and erosion detached the overlying layers of continental siliciclastic rocks and bare underlying formations with different mineralogy and chemistry. Due to this reason, the amazing color variation seen across the Rainbow Mountains. Therefore, the precipitated groundwater moves through the sandstone grains and deposits trace minerals in between the grains. This natural process imparts the trace minerals let for the eerie coloring of sandstones around the world.

Today Zhangye Danxia Geopark has become a major tourist attraction in China. A series of well access roads and boardwalks, have been constructed to increase greater tourist exploration of rock formations. Hence watching Rainbow Mountains China in person almost looks, as someone came through with a giant can of spray paint and painted lines across the mountains. Indeed the real fact is that, this is a natural formation, a truly mind blowing. From the ground it would be hard to see the striations and variations of colors. Because you have to climb up to the viewing platform, it’s feels like someone has opened your eyes to a fairy-tale world you never knew existed. It will be far more crowded July and August and on Chinese holidays. During the height of the tourist season, some 20,000 tourists visit daily. 

You will feel that on another planet. You need to pay some attention to which viewing platform to get in. One is North Entrance and the other is West Entrance. Make sure you know which entrance you came in at there will be a sign at the entrance gate. The best time to visit Rainbow Mountains China is May-October when the weather is comfortable and the sun is shining. Because the vivid colors only appear with the rays of sunshine, so avoid a cloudy day. From October till April, Gansu Province is very harsh as sub-freezing temperatures, strong wind and snow can dampen your travel. The best time to visit is in the morning and particularly in the evening, where the color variation changes continuously.

Moreover, myriad hotels in Zhangye City, but not all of them book foreigners. So, book your hotel in advance to avoid any hassle. The Gansu province is a remote area, so not many people speak English. So that’s why did not offer Hotels to Foreigners. These people can’t communicate with and whose standards they don’t understand. The Rainbow Mountains China is absolute a coolest place on earth due to its uniqueness. Not overrun with tourists, and an absolute dream to photograph. So don’t make rush at Rainbow Mountains as its magical awesome! Take your time on each platform and soak in the beauty. This is a landscape like nowhere else in the world, so savor it! Source: CP

These Rainbow Mountains, as people call them, are believed to be the same mountains that are mentioned in the Quran which are of different shades present on the surface of planet Earth. Here is what the Quran says,

“Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby fruits of varying colours? And in the mountains are tracts, white and red of varying shades and (some) extremely black” (Surah Fathir verse 27)

Friday, 10 August 2018

Lulusar Lake, Unspoiled Gem in High Mountains Peaks

Pakistan is blessed with myriad wonderful places that are filled with natural beauty. Numerous lovely Lakes are also the part of it. They are also playing an imperative role in improving the beauty of Pakistan. Lulusar Lake is also among these momentous lakes that are the favorite tourist spot for many.  Lulusar Lake is located on Naran-Babusar Road, 50 km from Naran in the Kaghan Valley in the KPK province of Pakistan. Lulusar Lake is group of mountain peaks, and the highest peak has a height of 11,200 feet above sea level. Lulusar Lake at 3,410 meters is the primary source of water to  Kunhar River. The lake water flows southwest through the entire length of Kaghan Valley passing Jalkhand, Naran, Kaghan, Jared, Paras, Kawai, Garihabib Ullah and Balakot until its confluence with the Jhelum River.

The extreme height of the mountains keeps Lulusar Lake covered in snow the year long. However the lake is located in a special zone where water can flow in some months of the year. The water color of Lulusar Lake is mesmerizing, the scenery, everything about it is so great. The word “sar” is a Pashto word means “top” or “peak”. On average tourist reach Lulusar Lake in 2 hours from Naran. The lake can see from right side of road. Lulusar Lake formed due to the blocking of Kunhar River sometimes in past. The same way Attabad Lake in Hunza was formed in 2010 due to massive landslide blocking Hunza River. The road to Lulusar Lake closed from November till May-June. Lulusar Lake is wreathed in blue and gold wild flowers enchanting beauty and its view remains in the mind of tourist for a long time.

Lulusar Lake water is crystal clear and it freezes during winter. The high mountains around the Lulusar Lake are davoid of trees as the lake is above the tree line. For food, tourist needs to go to a small village “Besal” five km downstream but has a good restaurant named "Moon Restaurant". Some animals are very common such as foxes, black bear, Himalayan snow cock, lynx, brown Bear and Himalayan Ibex as well. Hawks and other similar birds are also common, including Griffen Vultures of Himalaya, Falcon, and the Himalayan Monal. However, if the season is right, Russian & other migratory birds can also been seen nesting in some places. However, you just have to wait until their season of migration in order to be able to see these birds. The best time to visit Lulusar Lake is the beginning of summer as by the time summer passes, the lake would lose much of the snow near its adjacent mountains. The best time is, therefore, end May till end of June. After that Lulusar Lake will not have much snow, only the greenery will be seen.

It is highly recommend that rise early from Naran, go straight to Lulusar Lake and relish the lake for at least one hour. Then go to Babusar Top around 16 km more, 40 minutes’ drive from Lake. Then you can have spent one hour or more over there. On the return journey, take lunch at Besal (Moon Restaurant). Tourist can also enjoy staying a while at Payala Lake on Jalkhand. Then enjoy water fall near Naran, take a cup of tea at Kunhar River and then deep sleep at Naran. A tourist from New York said that she had travelled across the world but had no words to state the beauty of Lulusar Lake. It’s rare and very unique, has soothing environment. The nature is everywhere. Only fewer human beings are here and therefore, the place is so serene, and peaceful in the midst of high mountains and greenish meadows. The Lulusar Lake splendor is unaffected by pollution unlike Saiful Muluk, which has lost picturesqueness due to littering by visitors.

Lulusar Lake is famous due to its historic place where the fifty-five participants of the 1857 Indian war of independence were arrested and the lake is still remembered for that reason. Lulusar Lake is amazingly beautiful, serene and somewhat freaky Lulusar Lake. It’s a vast calm lake in the center of the valley, and made for a perfect backdrop for Instagram selfies and cover photos. Lulusar Lake is surrounded by snowcapped hills whose purple and white forms are reflected in the green-blue waters of the silent lake, making it one of the most beautiful spots in the valley. The Dudipatsar, Lulusar and Saiful Muluk are the most popular lakes in Naran/Kaghan. Dudipatsar needs tracking by foot obviously good for health. The Naran to Lulusar road is in excellent condition with a black-top with reasonable width and builds quality.

In summer Lulusar Lake is ultimate destination for many domestic and international visitors. Even though the park near to him is actually known as Lulusar-Dudipatsar National Park is also visited by many tourists. If you are planning to visit Naran/Kaghan, then it’s a must visit place. If you are going to Gilgit, then the visit can be kept on that day as the road is located right on Naran-Babusar-Gilgit Road. Tourists should carrying emergency supplies such as first aid kits and other medical supplies such as nausea tablets, as many people tend to get carsick on the mountain roads. Moreover, cars and jeeps of the area can be prone to falling apart, so make sure that the vehicle is reliable and technically sound. Also tourist demanded that the Pakistan government should preserve Lulusar Lake and other such tourist attractions in the district.
Source: CP

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Bamboo Bridge, Cambodia

An incredible Bamboo Bridge in Cambodia around 3,300 foot long is taken down and rebuilt every year. The amazing bridge contains 50,000 sticks of bamboo, built during the dry season to link the town of Kampong Cham with 1,000 families on Koh Paen Island across the Mekong River. Due to fear of flood in rainy season starting May till November, the locals dismantle the Bamboo Bridge and store all of bamboos. When the bridge isn't up, a ferry then takes people across the river.

The constant building and dismantling of the bamboo bridge has taken place annually from many decades and was only missed several times during the civil war in Cambodia. The Bamboo Bridge is strong enough to accommodate motorbikes, cars, bicycles and Trucks. The bridge is also providing facility to pedestrians. So, for to crossing the bridge locals charged 100 riel, which is only a few cents or one penny in sterling. However higher fee charged from tourists up to 40 times more. Hence once the dry season comes to an end, the bridge must be dismantled and stored as the strong currents of the Mekong are too strong for the crossing to survive.

Though, it is unknown for how much longer the tradition of building and dismantling the bridge will continue. Last year, a permanent concrete bridge was built by the Cambodian government further upstream, leading to fears the bamboo crossing would not return. But one traveler who visited Kampong Cham in April confirmed that the bridge was still there and still going strong - but is narrower than before. The bridge is rather less substantial than before, now carrying foot traffic only (well, I suspect they let motos across as well, but I didn't see that - maybe it's banned. Another TripAdvisor user, explained that it currently costs $1 US to cross and that it costs a further $1 to walk a bicycle across. Source: CP

Friday, 3 August 2018

Houtong Cat Village

In Taiwan there is a village which was famous once for monkeys, then coal, and now cats and lots of them. Houtong, which means "monkey cave, is located in Ruifang District New Taipei. Houtong Cat Village was originally called ‘Kau-tong’ due to the existence of a cave inhabited by monkeys in the early days. The area was once a small mining town, famous for a well preserved culture surrounding its railway. The village good old days, the area produced more than 220,000 tons of coal per year. The largest coal output of a single area in Taiwan. In 1920, a purification factory was built, ultimately attracted myriad immigrants to the area. The town was gradually prosperous to 900 households to 6000 people.
Unfortunately the area was tending to decline in 1990’s due to decline in mining industry. The young generation begins to migrate to search for other opportunities. Eventually only few hundred inhabitants remained due to mining industry had died out. In 2008, a local cat lover Peggy Chien organized volunteers to start offering abandoned cats a better life. He was passionate cat lover to make things happen by posting cats images online. His passion turns in an overwhelming response from other cat lovers around the world.
The public fell in love with the adorable cats and the village once again flourishing. As the word spreading out, Houtong Cat Village became center for cat lovers. Since, number of cats living there increased got attention all parts of the world. Thus, reviving a declining village is transforming into a tourist destination. Interestingly some cats are sterilized and will have one of their ears trimmed as confirmation. Hence, this helps to keep check on the local population of cats, and also support in identify new cats which enter into the village. Black, ginger, calico, tortoise shell, white and grey, fat and fatter, friendly and shy, there’re different cats of every wondrous kind in Houtong.
Though most of the cats hang out in the collection of cottages that cling to the hillside, they can be found roaming all over Houtong Village. Now, the Houtong Cat Village is prospering, featuring cafes, shops, relaxing places and restaurants catering to the many visitors who descend on this feline frontier every weekend. Cat lovers can see cats lounging in flower pots, loafing on shelves, padding up steps, jumping off roofs and spread out, sleeping, over stalls of kitty-themed souvenirs.
Houtong Cat Village is located near the origin of the Keelung River. The pristine, green waters of the river are accessible via steps. Drivers entering the town are greeted with a sign that reads 'A lot of stray cats’ here. Drive slowly. Moreover, A black covered “cat bridge” has been constructed above the busy railway, to allow safe passage for the cats. Houtong’s cats are remarkably good-natured, though they are usually being chased, petted and photographed by visitors. Source: CP
Obvious signage instructs visitors how to interact with the cats. The cats should be left alone unless they start contact, and they shouldn't be distraught or chased, the signs instruct. People who choose to feed the cats should clean up afterward, and flash photography is discouraged. The volunteers and doctors do regular neutering and injections to make sure the population is healthy and stable. And some people abandon their own pets there or even steal cats from the village.