The North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration yesterday said that it would continue its search for the best way to preserve the iconic “Queen’s Head” (女王頭) rock formation at Yehliu Geopark (野柳公園) in New Taipei City, despite failed experiments on similar so-called “mushroom rocks” or hoodoos.
The fate of the formation hangs in the balance, as the circumference of the rock’s “neck” has diminished drastically due to erosion and human-inflicted damage.
Administration data showed that the neck shrank from 144cm in 2006 to 126cm this year.
Photo: Yu Chao-fu, Taipei Times
The neck could break in five to 10 years if an effective solution to reinforce it is not found soon, the administration said.
The administration said that in 2011 it entrusted a research team led by National Taiwan University professor Hsieh Kuo-huang (謝國煌) with the task of testing whether nanotechnology could reinforce the rock formation.
Laboratory results showed that the technology could strengthen weak rock to a medium-hard durability.
Meanwhile, the administration said that a survey conducted last year by Shih Hsin University’s polling center showed that more than 60 percent of respondents supported the use of nanotechnology to reinforce the Queen’s Head and prevent its collapse.
Due to the survey results, the administration allowed the research team to begin conducting an experiment at the site in August last year. Researchers applied a synthetic paste to other hoodoos near the Queen’s Head to see whether it would help them withstand erosion in a natural environment.
The administration said that the research team first tested four methods, but thermal expansion and contraction of the rocks led to the treatment exfoliating 20 days after the test began.
The research team then decided to use a waterproof paint in six different experiments, but holes began to appear on the painted surface about five months after the tests started, because the reinforcement layer was too thin, the administration said.
Humidity and rain also led to bleaching of the surface of some of the rocks, the administration added.
“[The rocks] were unable to overcome nature in the outdoor experiments over the past nine months,” the administration said.
Administration Director Chen Mei-hsiu (陳美秀) and Yehliu Geopark Manager Yang Ching-chien (楊景謙) reiterated that they would allow the research team to work on the Queen’s Head only if it can guarantee success in reinforcing the structure of the rock without changing its appearance, color and natural elegance.
Some have expressed concern that tourists might not want to visit Yehliu Geopark if the rock’s “neck “breaks off. However, a survey conducted by the administration found that 75 percent of respondents would still visit the park, even if the Queen’s Head were to collapse.
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