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Submarine volcanoes and acid lakes......cool

Monday, February 23, 2009 at 08:20PM
Posted by Registered CommenterTrav in

Hello world, I have survived our epic adventure on Whakaari/White Island, a marine volcano fifty kilometres from the mainland. It took two hours to get there by boat on a beautiful morning although the water wasn't exactly 'Pacific' it was more bouncy than rough and only one person chucked up going in either direction, so it can't be bad. The crew of the boat were very friendly. They did warn Mr and Mrs Pet Human that they might get a bit splashed in the seat that they had chosen and that turned out to be typical southern hemisphere understatement as massive tsunami of water broke over the bows, innundating us all.

The island is basically a huge crater, with one bit of the side wall missing so that you can walk inside, all the way into the inner crater which is filled with a huge acid lake, bubbling away like some alchemists concoction, half a mile wide. The pet humans had to wear gas masks and hard hats but of course I am made of sterner stuff - although I do look a bit pale this morning and I think my fur might be a bit bleached!

The floor of the crater is warm to the touch and superheated steam jets out all over the place. If you jump on the ground it sounds hollow, although jumping up and down is not recommended as you might fall through into a bubbling cauldron of hot mud. One vent in particular (see above) spouts a jet of steam which reaches high above the wall of the crater, probably a thousand metres into the air. The ground is covered with yellow sulphur which people used to mine until they realised that mining a volcano is not the safest occupation in the world. As the steam clouds piled up overhead, drops of - presumably - sulphuric acid made our skins sting.

The walk took a couple of hours and then we had a chance to swim off the boat, where the sulphorous water from all the geysers and acid pools empties into the see. Mrs Pet Human appreciated the opportunity for a free acid skin peel, while Mr Pet Human entertained everyone by heaving himself over the side of the boat into the water. After 'last time' in Doubtful Sound, seawater has been emptying itself from his sinuses ever since in what we can only describe as nasal lahars.

Then it was time for another two hours cruising on the Bay of Plenty. We didn't see any whales or dolphins as we headed out, but we did see some flying fish which I was convinced were a myth, like mermaids.

It was a sensational day out and well worth the money. Back at the wharf, we retired to the bar to review the days photos and drink beer. The beer pictured is made from spring water from the East Cape with a touch of manuka honey and no sulphur at all which is a welcome relief.


Reader Comments (1)

wow will have to go, the gas mask is such an attractive look
February 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjulie

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