May 28, 2023

Large collapses, landslides and mudflows in 2007 and 2014 seriously changed the landscape of the famous Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka. Some of the unique objects were buried by sedimentary rocks and a dammed lake. However, these two catastrophes have become a kind of experiment that nature itself puts before our eyes. She gave scientists a rare opportunity to study the processes of restoration and formation of new geysers. In May this year, the periodicity of thermal springs in the valley was measured by employees of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The long-term goal of Alexander and Marina Belousov, the staff of the Institute, is to find out how the activity of natural hot fountains affected by large landslides in 2007 and 2014 changes over time. Work is being carried out on 13 geysers known to scientists since the discovery of the valley in 1941, and six sources that appeared at various times over the past nine years.

Volcanologists carried out routine observations of the change in the nature of eruptions, their frequency, strength and duration. Various methods are used for this: visual observations, timing, frame-by-frame automatic video recording with special cameras. Simultaneously, with the help of electronic sensors, the dynamics of temperature and water pressure in the channels of erupting geysers was measured.

— This was our first experience of monitoring the regime of geysers in the spring. We noticed that compared to summer, this time of year is characterized by an unusual operation of many geysers, which is probably due to a large amount of snow on the slopes of the valley. There were four geysers with a clearly unstable period this time. Two of them (Kotly and Fortress) violate their regime at any time of the year. Boilers are a “weather-dependent” geyser. During strong winds and rains, it usually increases the period of eruptions or even completely ceases to operate. Geyser Fortress before the collapse of 2007 was a pulsating source, until now its regime is unstable, and every year we note sharp fluctuations in the period of its eruptions or even a complete cessation of activity for several days, — said Alexander Belousov, a leading researcher at the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Processing the data obtained will allow scientists to determine with high accuracy the modes of activity of geysers, including the duration of individual phases of eruptions. Comparison with the data of previous years will make it possible to trace the changes over the past year, and in the future to identify natural patterns that lead to the appearance of geysers and cause failures in their regime.

Employees of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology FEB RAS are studying the Valley of Geysers since its opening Tatyana Ustinova in 1941. A continuous series of observations of the activity of geysers lasting more than 80 years has no analogues in world practice. To continue these studies for the period 2023–2024, a grant from the Russian Science Foundation “The mechanism of the periodic action of geysers, the evolution of the dynamics of their eruptions under changes in the environment and geological conditions” was received. As part of this grant, in May 2023, monitoring in the Valley of Geysers was carried out by employees of the institute Alexander Belousov, Marina Belousova and Ivan Nuzhdaev.

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