Valley of Geysers

Image of Valley of Geysers

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Location: Kamchatka Peninsula      Map

Image of Valley of Geysers Stamp

Description of Valley of Geysers

Valley of Geysers is located in Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East Region of Russia. It is a fairly small valley with numerous geysers that spew hot water to various heights and at various time interval. The cause for such active geologic processes is a volcanically active fault of the Pacific plate and East Siberian plate. Valley of Geysers is a marvelous valley located in Kronotsky Nature Reserve in the mountains of the Eastern volcanic belt. The geological formation is a former lake that disappeared centuries ago. It covers an area of 7 square miles that includes over 20 geysers, each with a different name. They all range in size and period of activity. Some shoot boiling water every 10- 12 minutes while other erupt once in 4- 5 hours. The best time to visit the valley is from June till September months. Although some prefer to risk bad weather in order to see peculiar combination of snow and fountains of hot water shooting from the ground.

Valley of Geysers Map

1. Pervenec (first order)
2. Troynoy (triple geyzer)
3. Sacharniy (sugary)
7. Konus (cone)
9. Maliy (minor)
10. Bolschoy (major)
11. Schel' (crevice)
12- 16. Vitrazh (stained glass)
17. Velikan (giant)




Valley of Geysers is one of the greatest geographical discoveries of the twentieth century. In 1941 Tatyana Ustinova, Kronotsky geologist with the help of an explorer Anisifor Krupenin were conducting the study of the region. Their goal was to find out why some of the rivers in the region are warmer than the others. During one of the breaks jet of boiling water suddenly startled the travelers. It was the geyser that became later known as Pervenec (First order or First born) in reference that it was the first such formation found in the valley.


Geographical position
The Valley of Geysers is located in the Kamchatka Territory of the Russian Federation. Spatially, it is located within the Eastern Ridge, in the deeply eroded southeastern part of the Uzon-Geysernaya caldera, which is part of the Geysernaya River basin, a tributary of the Shumnaya River.

general characteristics
There are three separate groups of thermal springs in the Geysernaya river valley:
Kikhpinychevskaya group - at the source of the river, on the slopes of the Kikhpinych volcano, with thermal springs of acid composition and low flow rate, and with fumaroles;
Upper geyser group - in a section of the river with a southeastern strike, with active fumarolic activity;
The Geyser group itself is located on a section of the river in its lower reaches, where the bulk of thermal springs and all geysers are concentrated. It is usually called the Valley of Geysers.
This group of springs is located in the lower reaches of the Geysernaya River, near its confluence with the Shumnaya River, on a section with a total length of about 2.5 km. There are 20 large geysers and several hundred outlets of thermal waters coming out in the lower part of the canyon about 400-500 m deep, in the riverbed and at the bottom of Lake Geysernoe, from which almost boiling water flows, the temperature of which exceeds 95 ° C and hot steam jets.

Currently, about two-thirds of the valley is covered by a major 2007 landslide.

Valley discovery
The Valley of Geysers was discovered in April 1941 by Tatiana Ustinova, a geologist at the Kronotsky Reserve, and Anisifor Krupenin, an Itelmen guide.

“In April 1941, together with an observer of the reserve, a Kamchatka aborigine Anisifor Pavlovich Krupenin, I went on a dog sled - a transport that had already passed into the past - to look for where the water from the Uzon volcano caldera went. I visited Uzon with my husband, zoologist Yuri Viktorovich Averin, in 1940, the year of our arrival in Kamchatka and the beginning of work in the Kronotsky reserve.
Tatiana Ustinova "

The time of the study - April - was not chosen by chance, since the expedition was supposed to be on dog sleds, and at this time of the year there is still a lot of snow on the territory of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, which covers thickets of bushes that are impenetrable in summer. We ascended along the mouth of the Shumnaya River. The border of the reserve then passed along it. On the diagram, it had no tributaries, but Tatyana Ustinova suggested that the river should have a left tributary carrying water from the Uzon:

“The water in Shumnaya had an iridescent hue that is difficult to describe. It occurs in pure fresh water if it is mixed with a significant amount of mineral. This strengthened my assumptions ... and at the end of the day we saw a large left tributary flowing into the Shumnaya from the Uzon side, as I expected.
Tatiana Ustinova "

Tatyana Ustinova and Anisifor Krupenin decided to explore this tributary and hoped to reach the river flowing from the caldera of the Uzon volcano, thus the discovery of the geyser Valley in Kamchatka was a matter of chance, especially since no one had ever found geysers on the Asian continent before, they were known at that moment only in three places of the globe: in Iceland, USA and New Zealand. Despite the fact that there are many volcanic areas, there are few geysers, since their appearance requires rarely met thermodynamic conditions.

“The weather was excellent ... Getting up early, we got dressed, or rather undressed for the weather: tunics, kamleys - knee-length white shirts made of tent fabric that protect from wind and snow, put on high rubber boots, took skis and set off to explore the found tributary of Shumnaya ... got on their skis and ran briskly up the river. Soon the skis had to be abandoned ... and then we went along the snow-covered slope, falling to the knees ... We walked, walked, but there was still no river from Uzon. But you still have to go back, get out of the valley. While they were pondering, a tall column of steam flew up ahead, apparently there was a large hot spring. We decided to reach him all the same. The weather is getting worse, we are going, but there is no hot spring, the camp is getting farther ... They don’t joke with the weather in the mountains, we decided to go back. We sat down in the snow to rest, eat what we took with us. Suddenly, from a small floating platform on the opposite bank ... a slanting stream of boiling water hit us, accompanied by clouds of steam and an underground rumble ... We were terribly frightened, huddled together, sat and did not know what awaited us. The behavior of volcanoes is unpredictable ... And suddenly the eruption of boiling water stopped, for some time the emission of steam clouds continued, and then everything calmed down and in front of us lay a small floating platform, unremarkable. Then I came to my senses and yelled in a voice that was not my own: "Geyser !!!"
Tatiana Ustinova "


Due to weather conditions, further movement along the river basin was impossible, and the researchers decided to return to the camp to the cordon, and then back to the village. But Tatiana was eager to continue exploring the newly opened geyser, now together with her husband and the then director of the reserve:

“In Kronoki, I told my husband and the director about my discovery, and we unanimously decided that in the summer we should go to explore the warm river we found. But in the summer the director left for Moscow, Averin stayed for the director and could not leave the village. In July 1941, we set off again together with Krupenin with one pack horse, which was carrying our camp equipment and a few supplies.
Tatiana Ustinova "

The second time we went along a different path, first along the coastal lowland, then, climbed into the high-mountainous desert, bypassed the cone of the Krashennikov volcano, then past Savich's cone and “... came to a cliff into a deep valley. It had many streams of steam that littered its bottom and slopes. From time to time fountains of boiling water - geysers - exploded in different places. " So Tatyana Ustinova and Anisifor Krupenin visited the valley for the second time, now for 4 whole days with the goal of direct research and description of this natural object.

“We walked around the entire active section of the valley, described all the geysers found, timed the stages of their activity and gave them names, not perpetuating each other with them, but for reasonable reasons. The largest geyser is the Giant. Geyser gushing from the gap - the Gap. Geyser, which during eruptions water beats from three holes - Triple. The firstborn we found in the spring. It was interesting to work, but also scary. We did not know the mode of the sources. At any moment, a stream of boiling water could splash on us from the slope along which we were passing ... It turned out that in the tent under the sleeping bags the soil, cold to the touch, warmed up so that we slept like on a stove, and a few meters from our tent a grazing horse suddenly fell through with its hind legs, and steam rose from the holes formed all the time we were in the valley.
Tatiana Ustinova "

Returning to the reserve base, Tatyana Ustinova talks about her achievements and her husband, Averin, who was then replacing the director, sends a telegram to the Reserve Department in Moscow. But, in connection with the outbreak of the war, in a return telegram, scientific work was ordered to stop, Ustinov to be fired, to finally appoint Averin in the place of director, to observe the strictest economy. Thus, the exploration of the valley was suspended until the end of the war.

Tatyana Ustinova had a chance to visit the valley again after the end of the war. This trip was made by three: Averin, Krupenin and Ustinova. This time a detailed diagram was made, descriptions, photographs, water samples were taken.

Both in Soviet times and after 1991, the Valley of Geysers was one of the most visited places in Kamchatka. The Valley of Geysers is also part of the Volcanoes of Kamchatka UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since 1967, "wild" tourism has been banned in the Valley of Geysers, and since 1977 - tourism in general.

In 1993, after creating the necessary infrastructure, the valley was reopened for tourists. More than three thousand people came to the valley a year.

The independent access of tourists to the Valley of Geysers is strictly limited.

In 2007, the head of the Federal Agency for Tourism Vladimir Strzhalkovsky asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to increase the quota for tourists visiting the site, to which he received the answer: "This decision should be based solely on the opinion of experts," which the press interpreted as a refusal.

Typhoon Elsa 1981
In 1981, typhoon Elsa caused rains, due to which the water level in the Geysernaya River rose by several meters. Mud streams carried along the channel three-meter boulders, destroying everything in their path. Many springs have suffered, including the famous Malachite Grotto. The Big Stove Geyser has disappeared.

Landslide 2007

On June 3, 2007, a major geological catastrophe occurred in the Valley of Geysers - a giant landslide descended, forming a powerful mudflow that blocked the Geysernaya river bed with a dam. The total volume of collapsed rocks is estimated at about 20 million m³.

On this day, at 14:20 local time, a huge landslide descended in the upper reaches of the Vodopadny stream, accompanied by a powerful mud-stone flow. It fell down the valley of the Vodopadny stream towards the Geysernaya river. In the process, a mudflow was formed from the heavily watered mud-stone mass, which quickly reached the Geysernaya river channel and, having formed a high dam, rushed down the Geysernaya channel, stopping only at the Triumphal Gates. At the same time, during the second phase of the geological cataclysm, the collapse of landslide ledges in the upper reaches of the Geyserny stream continued, as a result of which anhydrous debris avalanches were formed that descended along the landslide body, completing the formation of the dam. One of the tongues of debris avalanches stopped a few meters from the helipad and the visitor center of the reserve.

The victims were avoided - the tourists and personnel who were in the valley were not injured, they were urgently evacuated. From June 3 to July 20, the Valley of Geysers was closed to tourists. During this time, two helipads and excursion trails were restored.

In the upper reaches of the Vodopadny stream, a single amphitheater of collapse was formed with a breakaway ledge up to 150 meters high, the length of landslide and mudflow masses was 1.7 km with a width of 200-400 meters. The landslide massif, which reached the Geysernaya river canyon, formed a high rock-fill dam with a height of about 50 - 60 meters, which blocked the river. All the following days, the dammed lake was growing and many unique objects of the Valley of Geysers were inundated. On June 7, the level of the lake reached its maximum level, many geysers were flooded, including the Bolshoi, when in the evening at 19:30 water overflow began over the dam. During the breakthrough of the dam within 4 hours, the level of the lake dropped by 9 meters.

On June 6, 2007, the head of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, Yuri Trutnev, announced that the state would take all possible measures to preserve the natural monument. At the same time, he admitted that the Valley of Geysers would no longer exist in its former form.

On July 30, 2007, 20 large and medium-sized geysers out of forty-two functioned. 13 geysers, including the Bolshoi geyser, were located under the water of the lake, which was formed as a result of the closure of the Geysernaya river by a mudflow.

On September 20, 2007, the Bolshoi geyser came to life in the Valley, which had been under water for about three months, and it works in almost the same way as before the mudflow to the Valley on June 3.

According to the Minister of Natural Resources of the Kamchatka Territory, Yuri Garashchenko, dated May 14, 2008, all springs, except for the Maly geyser, operate in a normal or close to normal mode, and the situation in the Valley has stabilized. The small geyser is still under a 5-7 meter layer of water, but it manifests its activity in the form of a heat flow.

Other events
Self-healing in 2013
In September 2013, a new mudflow restored geysers and increased their number.

Landslide 2014
A major landslide occurred on January 4, 2014.