Fri, Aug 10, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Taipei’s hot spring area features unique type of spring

By Huang Chi-hao and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

White sulfur deposits in Hell Valley, also known as Thermal Valley, in Taipei City’s Beitou District are pictured on Saturday. The white sulfur naturally produced in this area supplies the majority of hot spring hotels in the Beitou district.

Photo: Huang Chi-hao, Taipei Times

Dubbed a “hot spring village,” Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) is renowned for its many hot spring hotels and resorts, mostly centered around the Xinbeitou MRT Station and Beitou Park.

The most common type of hot spring in the area is the white sulfur hot spring, which hails from the Liuhuangku Geothermal Scenic Area, a 16-hectare mountain-surrounded area southwest of the Yangmingshan National Park, followed by the blue sulfur hot springs emerging from the Thermal Valley, or Hell Valley, and iron sulfur hot springs.

According to locals, the Liuhuangku scenic area, or Sulfur Valley, was originally a mining area for sulfur minerals that were shipped mainly to China for the manufacturing of gunpowder. It was not until the Japanese colonial era that the hot springs industry flourished in the area.

Formation of the white sulfur springs is the result of oxidation of vaporized sulfur, strata minerals on the earth’s surface, and surface water, which subsequently condenses into acidic water after making contact with cold surfaces.

The temperature of the blue sulfur hot springs from Hell Valley, which contain a wealth of sulfate minerals, can reach up to 90°C — the highest among hot springs located within the Tatun volcano group — and the spring in Beitou district is one of only two of their kind in the world.

This type of hot spring is formed by the heating of underground water by volcanic lava that mixes with surface water.

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