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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nineteenth century wonder rediscovered in New Zealand

In the nineteenth century any tourist in New Zealand made the trek from Rotorua to see one of the world's marvels -- a system of pink and white terraces created by volcanic activity.

Then, on June 10, 1886, a mountain erupted.  A village and its inhabitants were overwhelmed, just like the victims of Pompei.  If you go to the museum in Rotorua, you can watch a riveting documentary, complete with sound and bump effects.

And, in the midst of chaos, the pink and white terraces were lost.

It was assumed that they had sunk, gone forever.  But now geologists think they just might have found them.

As Alice Guy in the New Zealand Herald reports: New research has sparked new hope of returning the terraces to public view - 131 years on from the Mt Tarawera eruption -- much to the joy of local iwi, who are descendants of the original victims of the disaster.

Hannah Martin describes the find in greater detail.  Using reverse engineering and a translation of the records kept by nineteenth century geologist Dr. Ferdinand von Hochstetter, researchers Rex Bunn and Dr. Sascha Nolden, have plotted the precise locations of the terraces -- and have found that they are buried under tons of rock and soil, instead of beneath the waters of Lake Rotomahana, as previously believed.

Nolden, a research librarian, discovered von Hockstetter's notes while curating the geologist's collection at Basel -- and found that they gave detailed coordinates for the terraces, calculated and written down in 1859.  Then she and Bunn worked backwards, first of all locating the place the geologist stood when he made his survey, and then following the leads he gave.    

1 comment:

Dale said...

It's a paper discovery (the Swiss-hels Hochstetter material was only discovered about 7 years ago), and the remark about the excavation was a throwaway one. Given that the lake bottom is now Tarawera's active caldera, the whole area is covered metres deep with tons and tons of mud, ash and rocks, and the original springs that gave life to the Terraces in all probability dead, I can't see anyone going ahead with any archaeology.
It's the sort of nuttiness that might appeal to an international buccaneer, but they would want development/hotel rights in the area and it's hard to envisage anyone selling that can of worms to the Tuhourangi Trust whose tribal lands these are.