Boooo! Halloween in the Kungurian – literally

A few days ago, I took you to Perm to look at the Permian, and a crash-course in the mysterious ways of carbonate rock porosity. Today, we home into the lower part of the Permian, the stage called Kungurian, which – surprise! – got its name from the town of Kungur, a couple of hours drive south of Perm.

Kungur consists of the same contrast of old and new as Perm, but on a smaller scale. Top modern detached houses in between century old timber buildings that have survived czars and communists. Modern roads, and “roads” where right-hand side driving is stochastic, depending on which side of the road has the least potholes.

Kungur town: The modern part with nice houses.

Kungur town: The modern part with nice houses.

Kungur town: The not so modern part. But they are working on it!

Kungur town: The not so modern part. But they are working on it!

Classic Kungur house: brown timber walls and colorful window sills. The sign says "Gagarin Street", named after Yuri Gagarin, the first man to fly in space.

Classic Kungur house: brown timber walls and colorful window sills. The sign says “Gagarin Street”, named after Yuri Gagarin, the first man to fly in space.

But we came for the geology. Large parts of the ground in Kungur consists of anhydrite, a calcium sulphate mineral with a similar composition as gypsum, minus water molecules. Anhydrite is easily soluble, and under ground, the water has carved out a system of caves. The Kungur Ice Cave is a tourist attraction, with guided tours literally in and through the Kungurian. At least the Kungurian rocks. As the name suggests, the thick rocks seal the cave from the outside, and keeps a stable, low temperature the year around. Thanks to special airflow conditions, a part of the cave is permanently frozen, with beautiful and bizarre ice formations, even when we visited in June. But the darkness and the formations, lit by mystic colours, makes it a good place to revisit for Halloween! Without further ado, no further comments, Your Honor – let’s go!

The tunnel from the entrance to the cave has several doors, to ensure that the frost soes not leak out.

The tunnel from the entrance to the cave has several doors, to ensure that the frost does not leak out.

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Uhu! The guardian bat angel of the Ice Cave.

Uhu! The guardian bat angel of the Ice Cave.

Reflections in the mystic lake in the temperate part of the ice cave.

Reflections in the mystic lake in the temperate part of the ice cave.

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The shaft of a sinkhole, seen from beneath in the cave.

The shaft of a sinkhole, seen from beneath in the cave.

A heap of debris in the cave, accumulated beneath a sinkhole.

A heap of debris in the cave, accumulated beneath a sinkhole.

Pattern of folded and crushed anhydrite flakes in the ceiling of the cave.

Pattern of folded and crushed anhydrite flakes in the ceiling of the cave.

The geological museum next to the Ice Cave is well worth a visit. Here, a model that shows how water flows downward through fracture zones, and creates sinkholes in the ground, and caves beneath.

The geological museum next to the Ice Cave is well worth a visit. Here, a model that shows how water flows downward through fracture zones, and creates sinkholes in the ground, and caves beneath.

Out in the free air again! A sinkhole on top of the Kungur ice Cave, created when the roof of the cave collapses. On the surface it is visible as a gentle crater, a hole filled wth debris.

Out in the free air again! A sinkhole on top of the Kungur ice Cave, created when the roof of the cave collapses. On the surface it is visible as a gentle crater, a hole filled wth debris.

The geological museum next to the Ice Cave is well worth a visit. Here, a model that shows how water flows downward through fracture zones, and creates sinkholes in the ground, and caves beneath.

The geological museum next to the Ice Cave is well worth a visit. Here, a model that shows how water flows downward through fracture zones, and creates sinkholes in the ground, and caves beneath.

2 responses to “Boooo! Halloween in the Kungurian – literally

  1. Pingback: On salt and old timber buildings | Adventures in geology - Karsten Eig·

  2. Pingback: Karsten makes a mistake on karst | Adventures in geology - Karsten Eig·

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