National Geographic : 1917 Jan
Photograph by L. G . Folsom WARMING MY HANDS AT ONE OF THE LITTLE FUMAROLES IN THE PASS The ground was encrusted with bright-colored sublimations from the escaping gases (see text below) With some trepidation we approached over the fissured surface and discovered that most of the steam issued from small openings a few inches in diameter, whence it came with considerable veloc ity, giving forth a low, roaring sound. We could come quite close and warmed our hands in the steam, which, though very hot as it emerged, soon cooled like the vapor from a tea-kettle. Coming off with the steam were vari ous other substances, which gave rise to curious evil-smelling odors and precipi tated a highly colored crust on the ground. Prominent among these was the "rotten-egg" smell of hydrogen sulphide and of sulphur dioxide, while crystals of sulphur gave a yellow tinge to the parti colored sublimations of the crust. I was anxious to return to Church, for we had already been gone much longer than we had expected when we left him. So, starting to return, I had reached a little eminence, for the fumaroles were just over the pass, when, turning around to urge Folsom to hasten, I saw far down the valley, over the top of some rising ground beyond us, a puff of steam. This had not been there when we came over the pass and was evidently considerably larger than the jets we had been examin- ing, and as the obstructing hill was not far away I decided, late as it was, to go forward and have a look. THE VALLEY OF THE TEN THOUSAND . SMOKES I can never forget my sensations at the sight which met my eyes as I surmounted the hillock and looked down the valley; for there, stretching as far as the eye could reach, till the valley turned behind a blue mountain in the distance, were hundreds-no, thousands-of little vol canoes like those we had just examined. They were not so little, either; for at such a distance anything so small as the little fumaroles at which we had been warming our hands would not be no ticed. Many of them were sending up col umns of steam which rose a thousand feet before dissolving. After a careful estimate, we judged there must be a thou sand whose columns would exceed 500 feet (see page 62). It was as though all the steam-engines in the world, assembled together, had popped their safety-valves at once and were letting off surplus steam in concert. Some were closely grouped in lines along a common fissure; others stood apart.