Thursday, 25 March 2010

The surprising elegance of Khabarovsk

Khabarovsk main square

Khabarovsk, pop. 600 000, is the largest city of the Russian Far East.

Location 48.5°N , 135.1°E

It is located at the confluence of the Amur River with its tributary the Ussuri River.

In spite of the location just 25 km from China, it looks definitely European with tree-lined streets and graceful architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and retains a distinct international feel.

Two years in a row it is a winner of the most beautiful town in Russia.

The main street, Muraviov-Amursky, looks more elegantly old-fashioned than any other street in Khabarovsk; it's a live chronicle of the city's history.

Old trams run along elegant Amursky boulevard.

Khabarovsk has about 60 museums. The Far East Art Museum includes works by Titian and art by the indigenous peoples of the Amur region.

The building is also the Concert Hall for the ciy's orchestra. Cultural life is intense, with several theaters, cinemas, galleries and parks.

The stairway down to Khabarovsk's Amur River embankment reflects the city’s order, elegance and cleanliness.

The promenade along the Amur river, overlooking to China, is one of the city's most loved and cared walks.

Khabarovsk is also rich in churches, some recent and others recently restored.

Khabarovsk station is a major stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

-------------------------- (to be continued)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Uelen, a Russian eskimo settlement :
Start of the Bering Crossing ?

Uelen is a small native coastal village in Chukotka, on the Siberian side of the Bering Strait, south of Cape Dezhnev. Also known as Ulyk or Olyk ( in Yupik Eskimo , “the land’s end”), Uelen has a population around 700 inhabitants. It lies on the northeast corner of the Uelen Lagoon, a roughly 15 by 3 km lagoon separated from the ocean by a sandspit.

Located where the Bering Sea meets the Chukchi sea, Uelen is the easternmost settlement in Russia and all Eurasia. Uelen also is also the closest Russian settlement to the U.S.

Coordinates: 66º o9' N, 169º 48' W

The orthodox church of Uelen

The Chukchi and Inuit people who live in the area have a long tradition of walrus ivory and bone carving that goes back several centuries. Their detailed engraving on walrus ivory often depicts their legends as well as scenes of traditional activities like hunting and reindeer herding.

Eskimo ball is the symbol of the Sun and fertility:

Tunnel or bridge ?

The Bering Strait is about 80 kilometers wide, with depth averaging 40-50 meters and a few spots as deep as 60 meters. Today the Strait connects two oceans – the Arctic and the Pacific, two seas – the Chukchi and the Bering, and two continents – North America and Eurasia, while separating “yesterday” from “tomorrow” with the International Dateline.

The Bering Strait could be spanned by a series of three bridges via the Diomede Islands for a total distance of about 80 km . The construction of such a bridge, or of a tunnel, would face unprecedented engineering, political, and financial challenges.

The depth of the water themselves offer little challenge. The tides and currents in the area are not severe. However, the route would lie just south of the Arctic Circle, subject to long, dark winters and extreme weather (average winter lows −20 °C with possible lows approaching −50 °C), and so building activity is restricted to five months out of the year.

On the Russian side , the tunnel or bridge would start in the Chukotka region, near Uelen. On the american side, it would start near Nome, Alaska.

Russian Railways recently announced strategy to reach out for Uelen on the Bering Strait with a rail corridor extending over 2 100 miles from Yakutsk. On the american side, a great effort to build roads and railroads to the extreme NE Alaska, connecting Fairbanks to Nome, would be needed.

The Bering Strait is already a world’s geographical crossroads in maritime traffic; a land connection would be a factor of large growth for those long-time isolated regions.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Pingualuit Crater, a perfect meteor crater

This is one of the youngest and best-preserved craters in the world. The basin created at the time of the meteor impact is now filled with exceptionally pure water.

Pingualuit means “where the land rises” in inuit language; the crater, known by the inuits as "Crystal Eye of Nunavik", is officially named Cratère Nouveau Quebec (New Quebec crater)

Location : Canada, Quebec
61°17'N , 75°40'W

Geologists established that the structure was a meteorite crater produced from an impact roughly 1.4 million years ago, just before the glaciers covered the area.

With a diameter of 3.4 kilometers, Pingualuit Crater holds a lake about 267 meters deep and almost perfectly circular in outline. Because this lake has no connection to any other water body, inflows from other lakes cannot contaminate Pingualuit’s sediments. Deep sediments in Pingualuit Crater preserve a longer record.

Pingualuit Park lodge