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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes - an extraordinary island of dramatic volcanic landscapes

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A popular destination spot for tourists, Jeju Island - with its shield volcanoes, lava tubes and tuff cones - offers visitors a glimpse into the evolution of the Earth's topography.

Jeju Island, the southernmost territory of the Republic of Korea, is renowned the world over for being popular with both domestic and international tourists. A place of unmistakable beauty and one of the finest places in the country to view the splendor of Korea's four seasons, it is also noted for being a volcanic island, bearing testimony to the history of our planet. The island grew up from the sea floor as a result of volcanic activities that began approximately 1.2 million years ago.

There are three main sites on Jeju Island. Geomunoreum is regarded as the finest lava tube system of caves anywhere on the planet, with its multi-colored carbonate roofs and floors, and dark-colored lava walls. The fortress-like Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone rising out of the ocean bestows a dramatic landscape. And Mount Hallasan, the highest mountain in South Korea at 1950 meters above sea level, boasts picturesque waterfalls, multi-shaped rock formations, and a lake-filled crater

The diverse volcanic landscapes on Jeju Island, resulting from volcanic activities, are still developing and are well worth visiting. These include the shield volcano, exemplified by those forming around Mt. Hallasan; the small-scale parasitic volcanoes, represented by Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone; and the lava tubes formed in the basaltic lava flows. Together, these volcanic features form a significant portion of the world's natural reserve.

Avian and hominid footprint fossils have also been found on Jeju Island. Some of the lava tubes contain artifacts used by prehistoric human beings, and scientists believe these early inhabitants of the island used the lava tubes for shelter or as sacred places.

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