Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pink And White Terraces Revisited

They were often referred to as the eighth natural wonder of the world.
New Zealand's Pink and White Terraces were considered an international marvel, formed over a thousand years by geothermally heated water containing large amounts of silicic acid and sodium chloride from two large geysers.
The White Terraces - 1884
The White Terraces were at the north end of Lake Rotomahana (near Rotorua) and faced away from the lake. They descended to the lake edge 40m below. The extra sunlight they received from facing N gave them a white appearance. The Pink Terraces were positioned about two thirds of the way down the lake sheltered from the harsh sun on the western shores, facing SE. Their pink appearance (nearly the colour of a rainbow trout) was due to less sunlight reaching them and therefore less bleaching.
The Terraces were thought to have been completely destroyed by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera, until scientists found remnants of the lower tiers 60m below Lake Rotomahana last year.
Now the scientific team is back on the case, aiming to unearth more information on the geological feature and the geothermal system that created them. Scientists will first remap the lake bed at a higher resolution. Seismic equipment will be used to get a clearer picture of the geological structures under the lake floor. As well as finding out more about the lake's extensive geothermal systems, the scientists hope to get clearer images of the underwater remnants of the terraces. The lake is roughly 3km x 6km and about 120m deep at its deepest point. It enlarged to five times its original size after the Tarawera eruption.
The Terraces were NZ's most famous tourist attraction in the mid-19th century. Once they'd been sighted by missionaries and traders in the 1840s, they started attracting visitors from all over the world. NZ was still relatively inaccessible and passage took several months by ship, followed by an overland trip 150km to Lake Rotomahana. Those keen early tourists would bathe in the thermal waters, in pools at the base of the Pink Terraces.
PS: 30 March 2012 - Chunks of the Terraces fetch a high price.

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