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North-Western solfatara field of Shiashkotan

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 48.8750 N 154.2006 E
No:499        (list of all attractions)
Categories:Springs, Fumaroles, Geothermal fields, Geysers
Address:Asia, Russia, Sakhalin Oblast, Kuril Islands, north-eastern part of Shiashkotan, at the northern bank of Sernaya stream
Name in Russian:Северо-Восточное сольфатарное поле, Шиашкотан
Size:500 by 700 m
Sinarka volcano on Shiashkotan Island, map
Sinarka volcano on Shiashkotan Island. North-Western solfatara field is in the central part of image, partly obscured with clouds./ NASA Johnson Space Center, public domain

There are no true geysers on Kuril Islands but North-Western solfatara field of Shiashkotan has some springs which are... almost geysers.

Landmarks of Shiashkotan

There are several interesting natural landmarks on the gorgeous, uninhabited Shiashkotan Island. Island has two volcanoes - the 828 m tall Kuntomintar in the south and 934 m tall Sinarka in the north. Through the lush vegetation of the island are flowing many smaller streams: as they reach the rims of volcanic plateaus they form spectacular, 40 - 70 m tall waterfalls which almost directly fall in the ocean or Okhotsk Sea. Sometimes hot streams of water reach the sea and near these streams vapor rises from the sea.

North-Western solfatara field

Especially interesting is the valley of Sernaya (Sulphuric) stream which flows eastwards from Sinarka volcano, towards ocean. Here, over the area of some 500 by 700 metres is interesting geothermal field with three geyser-like hot springs.

Three geyser-like springs

This solfatara field (solfataras - sites where sulphurous gases are emitted near the volcanoes) is known for decades, at least since 1960ies or earlier. Here are some 100 fumaroles. Already then geologists noticed here several springs which repeatedly, after certain intervals of time spouted a mix of hot water and gases. The most prominent ones are:

  • Burljashij (Бурлящий - The Bubbling/Boiling One). Approximate coordinates: 48.874296, 154.198406. Temperature of water - approximately 90 ° C;
  • Geizernij (Гейзерный). Approximate coordinates 48.875331, 154.200200. Size of cauldron: 5 by 1.5 m. Every 15 - 20 seconds some 1 - 1.5 m high fountain of gases, steam and water shoot up from this spring. Temperature of this water is approximately 70 ° C;
  • Chornij Drakon (Черный Дракон - Black Dragon). Approximate coordinates: 48.875534, 154.202490. This hot spring was discovered only in 2007 - most likely it became more active in recent time. It got its name due to dark color of water. Its cauldron is 0.8 - 1 m large, with constant plume of steam rising up to 50 m high above it. Temperature of water here is 93 - 95° C. Every 10 - 15 seconds it spouts some 10 - 12 litres of water some 0.5 - 1 m high. Due to splurges of hot water there is no vegetation some 5 m around the spring.

The activity of these springs is somewhat similar to the activity of geysers but nevertheless they don't qualify as true geysers. Most likely the mechanism behind the action of these springs is the following: groundwater enters the channel, where hot volcanic gases are emitted. As the water blocks the channel, pressure of gas below it increases and after some time the mix of hot water and gas is blown out. Genuine geysers have somewhat different mechanism and are powered by overheated water which explodes turning into steam.

Constant changes

There are many other interesting geothermal features in Kuril Islands, but the only geyser-like springs are found here, in North-Western solfatara field of Shiashkotan. Nevertheless this geothermal field is constantly changing - volcanic processes here are very active and in 2014 - 2015 here is observed inceased volcanic activity. Thus it is possible that currently some of the above-mentioned springs are less active and there have formed other geyser-like springs.


See North-Western solfatara field of Shiashkotan on the map of Russia!


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