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Taiwan park struggles to save 'Queen's Head' rock from disintegration

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-19 13:18 Comments

Taiwan park struggles to save 'Queen's Head' rock from disintegration

Tourists visit Yehliu Geopark in New Taipei of Taiwan, May 2, 2016. The geopark features stunning geological landscape formed by wave attack, rock weathering, earth movement and crustal movement, which make it a famous destination for tourists. [Photo/Xinhua]

TAIPEI -- The fate of Queen's Head rock, at Yeliu Geopark on the north coast of Taiwan, remains uncertain as conservation work to protect it from marine erosion has proved unsuccessful.

The rock, which is said to resemble Queen Elizabeth I's profile, attracted about 3 million visitors in 2015.

The "neck" of the mushroom-shaped rock measures 126 centimeters in circumference at its narrowest part, compared to 138cm in 2008, according to Tang Helena, Neo-Space International Inc assistant general manager, the organization that manages the geopark.

"In addition to being battered by sea water and wind, the fragile neck is at risk from typhoons and earthquakes," she said.

In the past decade a circle of stones was installed to prevent visitors from touching the sandstone formation, which was a regular occurrence before 2006.

Meanwhile, the authorities are exploring modern systems to protect the natural formation. Options including introducing a glass cabinet and a steel rib were turned down as natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes might bring unexpected damage to the formation, according to Tang.

In the last two years, the authorities have tried a new kind of nanotechnology paint, to slow erosion and strengthen the formation. The paint had been applied to one formation in the park as a test.

Although the paint worked well, the test area turned a shade of white, due to moisture generated from within the rock, making it standout among the other formations.

"The paint is a bit like cosmetics." Tang said, "which means the rock looks unnatural."

The result of the experiment does not bode well for some 180 mushroom-shaped rocks. "We are not giving up," said Tang, adding that the research will continue.

However, it is not all bad news for the park and visitors. On Jan. 20, 2010, one formation created a profile like a princess after a part of it broke off. The new landmark was named Cute Princess following an online poll.

Though, Queen's Head remains a top choice for visitors among the rocks, Cute Princess is gaining popularity, too.

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