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.
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!