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Diving with sea lions. Russian Bay. June'15

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The Valley of Geysers

There are a lot of wonderful sites in the Kronotsky Preserve, but none 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 was discovered not long ago – in April, 1941 when a hydrologist of the Kronotsky Preserve, Tatyana  Ustinova and a guide-Itelmen 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 was still snow everywhere in April. Somehow making themselves comfortable on a steep snow-covered slope exhausted travelers decided to have a snack. There was a thawed patch on the opposite bank with a light steam over it, and suddenly a spurt of hot water burst straight towards them. The scared people started off – time to save their souls! –  but soon realized 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 had seen an authentic geyser the first one in Kamchatka ever seen. She named it Pervenets (“First Born”).

 From the mouth of the Geysernaya River 6 km up the river there are 9 groups of geysers and thermal springs. The biggest geyser Velikan (Giant) throws out up to 30 tons of boiling water. Eruption periodicity is 5-8 hours, duration – about 1 minute. Its fountain is 30 m high. 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.

 Geyserite is a mineral (silica included in the group of base opals) that is crystallized from hot water round geysers and is very rich in shape and colours. The unusual colours and tints of geyserite were born by its surface inhabitants – unique bodies, thermophile bacteria and algae that die without the environment they got used to. Water-covered geyserites differ in shape from those above the water surface.

 Each person getting to the Valley for the first time experiences its hypnotic power. The head is spinning with surprise and amazement.

Web camera in Geyser Valley

There is one more unique sight of Kronotsky preserve – a big hollow with the dimensions 9x12 km., and total area 150 sq.km., formed on the remain of the ruined volcano and called Volcano Uzon Caldera.

 Hydrothermal activity is concentrated on the five thermal sites in the Southwestern part of the caldera. It manifests itself in numerous boiling and seething craters, countless mud cauldrons and small volcanoes, steaming or warmed sites with the gushes of steam or hot water. There are about 100 springs and more than 500 single hydrothermal appearances practically of all types of Kamchatka’s waters.

 The biggest, and at the same time the coldest and shallowest among the lakes of the caldera is Centralnoye (Central). Lake Fumarolnoye is warm: it is never covered with ice. Lake Bannoe with the temperature 40 C above zero even in winter, has the false bottom: the crust is formed by melted sulphur located in the depth. Lake Utinoye is cold, it has the unique sulphury beach. The warmth of the ground attracts animals and birds. There is much waterfowl on the thermal sites. Here the snipes, mute swans, and various species of ducks make their nests.

 Hiking paths in Volcano Uzon Caldera are similar to those in the Valley of Geysers. Volcano Uzon Caldera isunique because here it is possible to watch the displays of new volcanic activity, the formation of minerals and ores, the formation of thermal lakes, the exposures of the youngest in the planet oil, and the microbiological activity in the thermal springs, all this at the same time.