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The Valley of Geysers, Kamchatka geysers
A group of scientists of the Institute of Volcanology led by the senior scientific research worker Valery Droznin has been delivered to the damaged Geyser Valley. The scientists are facing the task of the scientific evaluation of the loss and working out the recommendations on visiting and studying the Geyser Valley to minimize the damage to the unique place.
For your reference, on June 3 two geysers ("Pervenets" and "Maly") were buried as a result of a landslide from a slope in the middle part of the Valley. The landslide covered the Geysernaya River which caused formation of a natural dike and water flood in the Geyser Valley. Some geysers were covered with water. The speed of the water going up is about 5 meters a day, the water has already gone over the dike and the rest of the geysers that are up the canyon are not going to be flooded. It is very probable that the dike will be damaged by the hot water of the geysers and the water level in the Valley will go down. Then the flooded geysers will be viewed again. Mud volcanoes and fumaroles have not been damaged either.
The director of the Kronotsky Preserve Ekaterina Radugova visited the Valley with the scientists. Her office is supposed to watch the unique natural object. According to her the damage to the Geyser Valley is not catastrophic and more likely is not going to prevent from arranging excurtions for commercial tourism this year.
The scientists who have arrived at the Geyser Valley today (07.06.2007)were surprised by a new geyser with the water jet of about 5 meters. The helicopter pads in the lower part of the canyon destroyed by the landslide are not going to be restored. The experts have already planned some places for the new ones in the upper part of the canyon.
And one more pleasant news is that as a result of the landslide some ground sites with incredible colour scheme have been exposed. The colour scheme is formed with light blue and red loam.
Of course, the final decision on the use of the Geyser Valley tourist potential will be taken only after the scientific research has been made (about a week), but it is possible to foresee that it is going to be favourable for the tourists who are going to visit this unique nook of nature.
A lot of wonderful sites are preserved in the Kronotsky Zapovednik, but nine of them is comparable with the uniqueness of the Valley of Geysers - an indisputable World's Miracle, the most precious natural relic of the mankind legacy.
The Valley of geysers was discovered not long ago - in April, 1941 when a hydrologist of the Kronotsky Zapovednik, Tatiana Ustinova, and a guide-ltelmen, Anisifor Krupenin went up along the riverbed of the Shumnaya ("Noisy"), and, entering a narrow passageway between the rocks, stopped not far from the mouth of an unknown tributary.
There is still snow everywhere in April. Somehow making themselves comfortable on a steep snow-covered slope, exhausted travellers decided to have a snack. There was a thawed patch on the opposite shore with a light steam over it, and suddenly a spurt of hot water bursted straight towards them!
The scared people started off - time to save their souls! - but soon realised that the boiling water could not reach them, and the rain of cooled splashes was not dangerous. The gush stopped as abruptly as it started, so Ustinova realized that she saw an authentic geyser, the first one in Kamchatka ever seen. She named it "Pervenets"(The First-Born").
There are over 20 big geysers in the Valley of geysers. Velikan(Giant), Zhemchuzhny (Pearly), Sakharny (Sugary), Troynoy (Triple), Konus (Cone), Fontan (Fountain), Maly (Small), Bolshoy (Big), Shchel (Slit) - here are some names. There are geysers that gush forth every 10-12 minutes, while others may erupt once in 4-5 hours. The wreathes of steam, fountains of boiling water, incredible colours of slopes, hot water streaming along them and profuse greenery of grasses and trees create an enchanting spectacle. Each person getting to the Valley of geysers for the first time, experiences its hypnotic power. The head is spinning with surprise and amazement. But the Valley of geysers does not forgive heedlessness, and collects an annual "tribute" of scalded extremities. The most dangerous spots in the Valley of geysers are covered with grass looking harmless: you sometimes feel an irresistible temptation to step on the green meadow. It is difficult for a person unaware of the Valley's perfidy to imagine that the attractive cover often conceals burning mud, and the foot not gaining a support, will go deep down as if in butter. It is dangerous not to wear boots, though not any pair of boots will protect you from burns - the burning marshy ground is sometimes over 1m deep. The only thing you can trust in the valley is wormwood. This well-known plain plant prefers absolutely reliable spots where, for some mysterious laws, the devil of the underground world has no right to step on. Where wormwood grows, you can pause with relief, sit or even lie down without a fear that the ground will open wide under you or your trousers will get destroyed by acid.
On October 4, 1981, the Valley of Geysers experienced a shock. Typhoon Elsa blowing over Kamchatka, provoked such rains that the water level in the river Geysernaya went several meters up. The swelled stream of mud and stones pulled 3-meter boulders along the river-bed destroying everything in its way. Geyser Bolshaya Pechka (Big Oven) died. Source Malakhitovi Grot (Malachite Grotto), the beauty and pride of the valley, was badly damaged.
Whatever great the losses inflicted by natural calamities may be, they can by no means justify human barbarism. No doubt, if in 1967 "wild" tourism had not been turned into a planned one, and in 1977 had not been prohibited at all, the Valley of geysers would have had a miserable look now: the tourists would have pilfered geysers for souvenirs. Finally in the early 90s the basically required tourist infrastructure was established to receive groups coming on excursions mainly by helicopters.
One should not be an environmentalist to understand that the limit of endurance of the Valley facing such tourist load is rather low. This is not Yellowstone Park with the capacity of 3 million people a year where you can park a car right at the geyser. The Valley of Geysers is a tiny plot full of wonders like a treasure-house and hidden by Nature deep in the mountains of Kamchatka.
Prof. Dr. Orhan KURAL
Svaja, Mattias, Pavlina
Katarina and Michal from Slovakia
Pam and Mike Jones.