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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Valley of the Geysers

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The Valley of Geysers is a geyser field in Russia, and has the second largest concentration of geysers in the world. This 6 km long basin with approximately ninety geysers and many hot springs is situated on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, predominantly on the left bank of the ever-deepening Geysernaya River, into which geothermal waters flow from a relatively young stratovolcano, Kikhpinych.

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Valley of the Geysers

Temperatures have been found to be 250 °C, 500 m below the caldera ground. It is part of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, which, in turn, is incorporated into the World Heritage Site "Volcanoes of Kamchatka". The valley is difficult to reach, with helicopters providing the only feasible means of transport.

The "pulsating" geysers of Kamchatka were discovered by a local scientist, Tatyana Ustinova, in 1941. She published her findings fourteen years later, but there was little exploration of the area until 1972. A systematic si survey was undertaken in the mid-1970s, and an automatic monitoring system was introduced in 1990.

Over thirty geysers were given names; among these was the Giant geyser (Velikan), capable of producing a jet of water reaching up to 40 meters. From the 1980s, the area was promoted across the USSR as one of the tourist magnets of Kamchatka and the Russian Far East. Foreign tourists were allowed into the valley in 1991. About 3,000 tourists visited the site annually.

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