Unique Ecosystems

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The Valley of the Geysers

The more correct moniker for the Valley of the Geysers would be the «Valley of the Geyser River,» given to the area by geologist T.I. Ustinova. The valley is situated near the eastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, among the volcanic ranges of the Eastern Volcano Belt, 180 km northeast of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The complex history of the region has always aroused great interest among specialists.
On June 3, 2007 at 2:20 p.m., a natural catastrophe changed the face of the Valley of the Geysers.

Uzon Volcano Caldera

This unique phenomenon, like a natural laboratory, provides a live demonstration of thermal ecosystem processes. The hydrothermal system of the Uzon is one of the most powerful in Kamchatka. Here one can observe, unlike anywhere else on Earth, a number of processes involved in the creation of volcanoes, products of the glacial period, and fields with virgin sulfur beds and colorful rock formations created by hydrothermal forces.

Death Valley

In the upper reaches of the Geyser River at the foot of the Kikhpinych Volcano, there is a small valley measuring two kilometers by 100–500 meters where animals regularly perish. This natural phenomenon has been observed in other parts of the planet with volcanic activity (Yellowstone National Park, USA; on Java in Indonesia). The contents of the poisonous cocktail in Kamchatka"s Death Valley, however, are much more complex, aggressive, and dangerous than those of other death valleys, and it is unlike any other in the world.

Bolshoy (Great) Semyachik Volcano

The Bolshoy Semyachik Volcano is a complex volcanic range with a diameter of about 15 km. There are seven cone-shaped stratovolcanoes, the largest of which is Zubchatka Volcano. The age of the caldera is over 100,000 years. Massive thermal fields emitting sulfurous gases are found on the slopes of Burlyashchiy (Seething) and Central Semyachik volcanoes. It is very rare to see such huge areas of colored clays and yellowish rock formations.

Nizhne-Semyachikskiye (Lower Semyachik) Hot Springs

North of Semyachiksky Lagoon (8 km from Bolshoy Semyachik Volcano), numerous hot springs are found in the upper reaches and valleys of small creeks at an altitude of 150–160 meters above sea level on a broad area occupied by Ermine birch forests. For ages, these hot springs have been famous for their healing properties, and a health spa was located here in Soviet times.

Graceful Fir Grove

The Kamchatka or Graceful Fir Grove, which is surrounded by a deciduous forest of Erman"s birch in the lower reaches of the Novy (New) Semyachik River, is one of the taiga conifer islands of Kamchatka. The native Itelmen people have known about and avoided this forest for more than 250 years. The grove inspired fear in the Itelmen because of its mystique. Even today, two of its mysteries remain unresolved - its origin and taxonomy.

Kronotskoye Lake

Kronotskoye Lake is the largest freshwater lake and drainage basin on Kamchatka; it is the second largest in terms of water volume and the third deepest on Kamchatka. Kronotskoye Lake was formed after the ancient Paleokronotskaya River was dammed by a massive lava flow along with pyroclastic sediments from eruptions of the Kronotsky and Krasheninnikov volcanos. The lake is unique not only due to its origin, but also because of the natural ecosystems within its watershed.

Larch Forest of the Kronotskoye Lake Basin

The larch forest of the Kronotskoye Lake basin is of special interest as model of pristine nature. Nowhere is Eastern Kamchatka richer in species diversity than in this forest. Flora of the coniferous taiga, Erman"s birch forest, sparse stands of white birch, mountain pine, dwarf alder, and meadow poplar forests all come together here in an area of several thousand hectares.

Glaciers of Kronotsky Peninsula

The numerous snowfields and glaciers on volcanoes of the reserve are interesting for sightseers. Snow, which accumulates in the mountain areas in massive quantities, often does not even have time to melt during the short, cool summer. Of the 414 glaciers of the Kamchatka Peninsula, 46 are found in the reserve. The largest glaciers are on the Kronotsky Peninsula, where they form a massive glacial system covering 11,000 ha.

Semyachiksky Liman (Lagoon)

The Semyachiksky Liman is situated on the southern border of the Reserve. In summer, the waters of the large shallow lagoon grow warm. The lagoon formed as a result of a combination of process from the sea (Kronotsky Bay) and rivers and brooks (Novy Semyachik, Stary Semyachik, Barmotina, Domashny, Pikhtovy and others). During low tide, numerous shallows appear, offering rich feeding grounds for marsh birds.

Bolshiye and Maliye Tyushevskiye Hot Springs

Bolshiye and Maliye Tyushevskiye Hot Springs are in the Tyushevka River valley, 15–18 km from its mouth. They were first described in 1927. Their unique flora and fauna have not faced human disturbances, which makes this territory of great scientific interest. Eight plant species listed in the Kamchatka Red Data Book grow here, and invasive species are absent.

Chazhma Cape

Nizhne-Chazhminsky Hot Springs

Nizhne-Chazhminskiye Hot Springs are near the mouth of the Bolshaya Chazhma River. These springs have been known since ancient times. Not far from here, archeologists unearthed Neolithic settlements. The first scientific data is from 1930. In small plots near the springs, regionally rare plant species listed in the Red Data Book have been identified.

Did You Know

The Semyachicksky estuary is counted as one of the most important wetlands as a key ornithological territory, protected by the Ramsar Convention.