Scientists may have “re-discovered” the Eighth Wonder of the World buried beneath roughly 131-years worth of volcanic ash.
This wonder is the Pink and White Terraces of New Zealand, located in the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley. In 1886, Mount Tarawera erupted in close proximity to the Terraces, leading scientists and archaeologists, alike, to believe that the site was lost forever.
Until recently, the exact location of the Terraces was unknown; however, with this new discovery, it is believed that the site was actually buried beneath roughly 30 to 40 feet of mud and ash near Lake Rotomaha adjacent to Mt. Tarawera.
The Terraces were the largest deposit of silica sinter known to man, the natural wonder forming a set of pink and white cascading rock pools that mimicked steps leading down into the lake beneath it. As reported by USA Today, the Terraces were also known as the “fountain of clouded sky” and “tattooed rock,” and they were arguably the greatest tourist attraction in the Southern Hemisphere during the time of the British Empire.
Researchers have been conducting underwater sonar, surveys and much more for years now, doing everything in their power to locate the site and determine whether or not it would be salvageable. Just last year, it was determined that the Terraces had been undoubtedly destroyed in the volcanic blast. However, scientists now ascertain that they were most likely relying off of faulty cartographical information.
According to The Guardian, researchers now believe that, based on the field diaries of German-Austrian geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter—which contained exact details of the Terraces’ features and location—the Terraces were neither destroyed nor buried beneath Lake Rotomaha, but actually “buried on the foreshore of the lake.”
Given this new information, it is logical to conclude that the Terraces were most likely entombed within the multiple layers of mud and rock, inside of which they may actually remain in decent condition with minimal damage—perhaps enough so that they may be returned to their striking original state.
Though future excavations of the site are now at the discretion of local New Zealand authorities, it is safe to say that, if and when the Terraces are re-surfaced, they could move to join the ranks of the other Seven Wonders of the World.
Top photo courtesy of Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr, CC0
Natalie Wickstrom is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia. She probably wrote this piece to the tune of a movie score whilst chewing gum.