North-Western solfatara field of Shiashkotan

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Sinarka volcano on Shiashkotan Island. North-Western solfatara field is in the central part of image, partly obscured with clouds
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 and turns 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 increased 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.

References

  1. А. В. Дегтерев, Р. В. Жарков, Д. Н. Козлов, «ЧЕРНЫЙ ДРАКОН» – НОВЫЙ ИСТОЧНИК ГЕЙЗЕРНОГО ТИПА НА КУРИЛЬСКИХ ОСТРОВАХ, ВЕСТНИК САХАЛИНСКОГО МУЗЕЯ № 17, April 2011. Accessed on November 17, 2015.
  2. Е. Г. Калачева, Т. А. Котенко, Л. В. Котенко, Е. В. Волошина, ГЕОХИМИЯ ТЕРМАЛЬНЫХ ВОД И ФУМАРОЛЬНЫХ ГАЗОВ о. ШИАШКОТАН (КУРИЛЬСКИЕ ОСТРОВА), ВУЛКАНОЛОГИЯ И СЕЙСМОЛОГИЯ, 2014, № 5.

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North-Western solfatara field of Shiashkotan 48.875062, 154.200623   North-Western solfatara field of Shiashkotan
Coordinates: 48.8750 N 154.2006 E
Categories: Thermal springs, Fumaroles, Geothermal fields, Geysers
Values: Geology
Rating: (3 / 5)
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

Landmarks of Russia

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow in the night
St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow in the night / Asguskov, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
The largest country in the world, Russia, is associated in the minds of many people with the onion domes of Orthodox churches and the massive walls of the Moscow Kremlin. But besides the unique architecture, Russia offers many more unusual and exciting attractions.

Geysers

Lake Bogoria, geyser and flamingos
Lake Bogoria, geyser and flamingos / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Hasty hydrogeologist would say: geysers are thermodynamically and hydrodynamically unstable hot springs. “Normal” people would say – geysers are hot springs which at more or less regular intervals shoot up a fountain of boiling water and steam. Sometimes these fountains are even 100 m tall… or even 450 m!

Recommended books

Aquatic Biological Resources of the Northern Kuril Islands


In Russian. Aquatic Biological Resources of the Northern Kuril Islands. With 8 color plates. The table of contents is in Russian and English (see photo). The rest of the book is in Russian.

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