The one and only – Stolbchaty.

Next up for us – in fact, our last Kuril Island of this year’s expedition – was Kunashir, which, luckily, happens to be covered in outstanding volcanisms. To the north there’s Tyatya; to the south of it there are Cape Stolbchaty and its crazy columns; and further south there are the multicolored fumarole fields of Mendeleyeva Volcano and the hot mud baths in the Golovina Caldera. Each instance of volcanism – spectacularly beautiful in its own right; but all together they make sure the island of Kunashir would – if it were in China – geyt a full KKKKK rating!

We were here five years ago, and I wrote plenty about this phenomenal island then and showed you a ton of pics. Here, I’ll just be complementing that earlier narrative and photography with some extra-special new impressions.

Alas Tyatya wasn’t ‘open for visitors’ when we were there – the weather was too bad and the huge waves didn’t permit us a safe landing. But we did get a rerun of Mendeleyeva’s fumaroles and the stone pillars of Stolbchaty.

If you had to describe Kunashir with just one word, what would it be? ‘Ура!’, of course (in Russian), which means ‘hurray’ in English. Accordingly – basalt graffiti thereof:

Stolbchaty – it’s so awesome just strolling around and clambering up and down the stones. Instead of trying to describe it with words, here’s a video:

The columns are formed during massive volcanic eruptions, when huge quantities of basalt lava spew out of the earth and form a lava plateau several meters deep. Then, as a result of cooling this plateau gets ‘column-ized’: up above the lava quickly loses temperature and hardens little by little the further down it cools, while below all’s still hot and liquid. With cooling the volume of the lava contracts and cracks appear on its surface, in places forming nicely symmetrical five or six-sided long ‘tubes’ of rock. Science calls this phenomenon Benard cells.

Crayon column kunst:

Intriguingly, mysteriously straight and symmetrical in places:

Columns by the sea have been visibly worn down thereby:

Over there on the horizon – Hokkaido, Japan!

Over here – the out-of-this-world stone constructions maintain the astonishment factor for hours… ->

And that’s all from Kunishir folks – at least for this trip…

All the pics form our Kurils-2019 adventure are here.

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