July 01, 2007

Travel Notes

Kamchatka Disaster

On June 4, a massive slide of boulders, gravel, snow and ice choked the Geyser River which runs through the world-famous Valley of the Geysers in Kamchatka’s Kronotsky Nature Preserve. Within hours, most of the valley’s geysers were submerged under waters that steadily rose behind the blockage (see before and after photos, at right).

The Valley of the Geysers, part of the Volcanoes of Kamchatka UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of only four places where geysers punch holes through Earth’s crust, spewing boiling water and steam skyward. The three other sites are in Yellowstone National Park, Iceland and New Zealand. The Valley of the Geysers is nestled in a canyon of a mountain river, where more than 20 large geysers and 200 thermal springs, vapor-steam jets, and mud-pots belch, boil and gush in an area of only about seven square kilometers. (Russian Life ran a two-part article on Kamchatka’s geysers and bear habitat in its July/Aug 2006 and Nov/Dec 2006 issues.) 

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