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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mud Volcano at Hell's Gate

Given its unique landscape, Hell’s Gate presents an excellent opportunity for academic learning and research. My guide told us that the geothermal park had even played hosts to student groups from USA and Singapore. These students had spent several days in the park having their field lessons in geography and chemistry.

There have been geologists spending considerable time studying the unique land features in the park too. Below is a mud volcano which is still growing. Hot mud oozes from the ground and builds up to form this mud volcano. Notice the amount of steam in below photo. At the bottom right, you can also spot an impression of a footprint!

My New Zealand Vacation, Rotorua, Hell's Gate, Photo10710
(click for larger photo)
Steaming hot mud volcano
Hell’s Gate, Rotorua, May 2006

Below photo puts the size of this mud volcano in perspective.

My New Zealand Vacation, Rotorua, Hell's Gate, Photo10714
(click for larger photo)
Mud volcano
Hell’s Gate, Rotorua, May 2006

This mud volcano has attracted the attention of a number of geologists. About 2-3 years ago, there was a French volcanologist who was especially interested in it. Unable to contain his curiosity, he got off the designated pathway for a closer look. He wanted to examine the top portion of this mud volcano so he decided to step on it. His initial steps must have been well supported because when he was somewhere in the middle of the volcano, his leg went right through into the mud! What happened thereafter was a frantic rescue. This volcanologist suffered serious burns on his leg and was hospitalized for more than a month!

My New Zealand Vacation, Rotorua, Hell's Gate, Photo10715
(click for larger photo)
Where the volcanologist sank in
Hell’s Gate, Rotorua, May 2006

Above photo shows the side of this mud volcano where this volcanologist sank in. If you are all ready for an adventure in New Zealand, then it would be good to restrain yourself and stay on (not stray off) the path in Hell’s Gate. You wouldn’t want to spend your New Zealand vacation in hospital, would you? Instead, keep your adventure spirit and put it to good use when you are in Queenstown, which is the Adventure Capital of the World.
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