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New Zealand Volcanic Valleys

Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in New Zealand is amazing.  This is a place of spectacular thermal activity.  It is the youngest geothermal system in the world. It was created on June 10, 1886.  when Mt. Tarawera, a volcano on the North Island of New Zealand blew!  It is a pristine location of unusual geology.

This one-day eruption created an 11-mile rift and decimated the area. The mud and ash averaged 66 feet thick over the entire area.   The many varied species of plant and animal life started flourishing again in the 1890s.  You can now find around 50 different species of trees and shrubs and 50 different species of ferns and allied plants. Prostrate Kanuka and varied species of mosses are some of the few plants in the world that can survive the soil temperatures of 131 degrees.  Nothing was planted by humans; everything repopulated itself. 

The geothermal system includes a wide variety of green, orange, and blue/green algae.  As this algae can survive in a pH around 3.8, some algae grow better in hotter temperatures, This creates color contrasts that are awe-inspiring.  Much of the thermophilic bacteria must survive temperatures of 158 degrees.  These odd temperatures and pH levels cause a variety of brilliantly colored microbiology.

There are a number of delicate silica formations. One example is the Bird’s Nest Terrace.  This small volcano-shaped spring sits on top of the water at near-boiling temperatures that erupts continuously.  Here, you can see many exquisite colorful mineral deposits. 

Inferno Crater Lake is the largest geyser-like feature in the Valley.  This lake is pale blue and 98 feet deep. The geyser is actually at the bottom of the lake so you can't see it. There are active fumaroles visible on the shore and the cliff face. This lake is connected to Frying Pan Lake. 

The largest hot spring in the world is Frying Pan Lake.  This lake is 131 degrees, 20 feet deep and 410,000 square feet. The water is also acidic at a pH of 3.5.  The overflow is the source of Waimangu Stream, also called Hot Water Creek.

This volcanic valley in New Zealand is a wonder of nature consisting of unusual plant life, birds, delicate silica formations, microbiology in vibrant colors, hot springs, volcanic craters, and thermal activity. 

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