Monday, June 04, 2007

Agonizing massive loss for the world and for microbiology - Valley of the Geyseys in Kamchatka mostly destroyed

There has been an environmental disaster of epic proportions in Russia. The Valley of the Geyseys, one of the most spectacular places on the planet - an ecosystem of hotsprings and thermal sites much like that in Yellowstone National Park in the US, has apparently been destroyed by a massive mudslide.

See the news stories
This is a big tragedy for microbiology because Kamchatka has become a site of an enormous amount of really top notch microbiology research and a great place to compare results from those found in other thermal sites like Yellowstone.

TASS reports for example

most of the unique hot water springs in the Valley of Geysers have been damaged beyond repair.

This will affect many important research projects (including mine). For example see the web site of the Kamchatka Microbial Observatory (funded by NSF) on which I have a minor role.

If anyone out there has any additional information it would be appreciated.

PS Thanks to Jenna Morgan for pointing this out.

PPS - Nature has run a news story on this


  1. I wouldn't look at this as a complete negative. I am sure that a new and interesting ecosystem will develop in its place. And with all the geologic activity, it may reform giving you and other researchers a chance to characterize these ecosystems as the form.

  2. Well, of course you are right in the big picture. But there are some things that are useful without disturbances. And this place was incredibly useful as a comparison to Yellowstone to try and figure out what are the rules of microbial biogeography. Microbial succession, which is also cool, can be studied in a million other places. So I wish this had not happened.