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- Jul 19, 2004
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FULL STORY: http://www.livescience.com/59621-long-lost-pink-and-white-terraces-may-be-found.htmlNew Zealand's Long-Lost Pink and White Terraces May Have Been Found
The location of a long-lost natural wonder in New Zealand has been identified, thanks to an accidentally found diary of a 19th century geographer. ...
The so-called Pink and White Terraces on the shores of Lake Rotomahana on New Zealand's North Island used to attract scores of adventurous tourists in the late 19th century. The massive deposits of silica sediment created by upwelling geothermal hot springs were as large as a city block and as tall as an 8-story building. Yet in 1886, within a single night, a massive eruption of a nearby volcano transformed the landscape around the lake beyond recognition and erased the natural wonder from the Earth's surface.
An independent researcher now claims he knows exactly where the terraces lie. The mystery was solved using a field diary that belonged to the German geographer Ferdinand von Hochstetter, which no one knew about until 2011. ...
"There were four eruptions of the Terawera volcano on the night of 10 June 1886," said study co-author Rex Bunn, explaining the magnitude of the disaster. "Three separate volcanic eruptions happened along a mountain peak and that was OK. The terraces survived that. But finally a hydrothermal, hot water, eruption happened and blew up the floor of the lake and that's what buried the terraces."
A huge cloud of fine volcanic ash buried the glowing surface of the terraces under a blanket of debris more than 50 feet (15 meters) thick. The shape of the lake changed and many of the surrounding landmarks, including the terraces, disappeared. Many thought the tourist magnet was destroyed by the eruption.
"The government had never surveyed the area, so the colonists had no way of knowing where [exactly] the terraces had been," Bunn told Live Science. "There was no way of getting GPS coordinates for them so it became a mystery, which continued until today." ...
(One or two 19th century photos of the terraces are available at the linked site.)