World’s first undersea basalt columns: Taiwan

A file photo of basalt columns in Penghu, Taiwan.  Undersea columns of basalt have been found near an uninhabited islet in offshore Penghu Country in Taiwan and are believed by the finder to be the only ones of this type in the world.  澎湖的玄�岩地形近來受到國際上重視。 A file photo of basalt columns in Penghu, Taiwan. Undersea columns of basalt have been found near an uninhabited islet in offshore Penghu Country in Taiwan and are believed by the finder to be the only ones of this type in the world. 澎湖的玄武岩地形近來受到國際上重視。

Basalt, known as an extrusive volcano rock, ranging from gray to black, is fine grained due to the process of rapid cooling of lava   Most interestingly, basalt has been found of all places, on the Moon,  asteroid Vesta,the planets Mars and Venus!  In total, there are five variations of basalts: Tholeiitic, M.O.R.B., High Alumina, Alkali, and Boninite.

(columnar jointed basalt in Hong Kong - near Basalt Island and High Island Reservoir areas)

(columnar jointed basalt in Hong Kong - near Basalt Island and High Island Reservoir areas)

As quoted from wikipedia.com:

The common corrosion features of underwater volcanic basalt suggest that microbial activity may play a significant role in the chemical exchange between basaltic rocks and seawater. The significant amounts of reduced iron, Fe(II), and manganese, Mn(II), present in basaltic rocks provide potential energy sources for bacteria. Recent research has shown that some Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria cultured from iron-sulfide surfaces are also able to grow with basaltic rock as a source of Fe(II).[8] In recent work at Loihi Seamount, Fe- and Mn- oxidizing bacteria have been cultured from weathered basalts.[9] The impact of bacteria on altering the chemical composition of basaltic glass (and thus, the oceanic crust) and seawater suggest that these interactions may lead to an application of hydrothermal vents to the origin of life.

Undersea columns of basalt have been latest discovered, nearby an uninhabited islet offshore Penghu County of Taiwan.  According to the discoverer, Jeng Ming-hsiou (鄭明修), the location is believed to be the first and only of this type in the world.  Jeng, a researcher from Academia Sinica accidentally discovered the area in May 2008 diving off of Dayao islet in researching for answeres to the mass death of fish at the time.

The undersea columns are measured to be 200 meters long and 10 meters high.  The five-sided to six-sided columns, typical  of basalt formations, are decorated in barnacles and coral; the rocks, partially damaged from under-currents, but otherwise unspoiled.

The equilibrium temperatures of Peiliao samples are ranged from 1000 to 1050 degrees Celcius.  Currently, the famous and oldest basalt is known to be the Wangan basalt.  To protect them, an option would be to set up a park of geology, as is UNESCO‘s scheme for the protection of the beauty of ecology, and educate people through the natural scenery as a historical resource and increasing tourism to Taiwan.

(Each year, Penghu attracts numerous divers The beauty and its unique natural environment of Wangan (Wangan Island, General Island, Hua Island, Cat Island and Tongchi Island) attract not only tourists but also green turtles to lay their eggs. Wangan Island became the preservation area for green turtles in 1994. Chungse Ancient Residence Area is also in Wangan and comparative well-reserved. To protect the 44 types of seabirds that visit Cat Island annually, the Taiwanese government designated the area as a Seabird Preservation Area in 1991.)

(Each year, Penghu attracts numerous divers The beauty and its unique natural environment of Wangan (Wangan Island, General Island, Hua Island, Cat Island and Tongchi Island) attract not only tourists but also green turtles to lay their eggs. Wangan Island became the preservation area for green turtles in 1994. Chungse Ancient Residence Area is also in Wangan and comparative well-reserved. To protect the 44 types of seabirds that visit Cat Island annually, the Taiwanese government designated the area as a Seabird Preservation Area in 1991.)

“Although Taiwan is very small, it has developed so many cultural and natural assets. Just look, every one is of a different character. This is what makes Taiwan so genuinely interesting.” commented Huang Jui-mao of the Tanshui Community Action Team and an assistant professor of architecture at Tamkang University on the potential of the possibility in being on the list of World Heritage sites.

As quoted from taipeitimes.com article:

Chen Tsou-ming (陳造明), representative of the Penghu National Scenic Area Administration, said in a telephone interview with the Taipei Times yesterday that the landscape formed around the basalt columns is more diverse than the famous Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, which is already recognized as a world heritage site.

Taiwan is in current status, attempting to have the United Nations acknowledge Penghu, an archipelago formed by basalt, as a world natural heritage site, and credited to Jeng’s discovery.

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~ by Lan on 2008 SunUTC2009-01-04T10:28:14+00:00. 15.

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