Pamukkale: Amazing and Poetic Geological Wonder in Turkey

Interesting Engineering

If we are talking about natural beauty, the Pamukkale is one of the most epic wonders. With its fluffy cotton pools and geologic heritage, it is beautiful from all angles. The snowy white calcium cascade terraces called travertines flow down into the Menderes Valley like golden hairs of the mountains in the sunset.


The Pamukkale and the Hierapolis, an ancient city, were both recognized as a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1988. For locals, it is also the 8th Wonder of the World. The name Pamukkale means 'Cotton Castle' in Turkish. Besides its adorable beauty, it is a geological formation which is based on 17 main hot water springs that are actually sources of the calcium carbonate which gets deposited as mineral rock on the surface.


The formation and evolution of the terraces have always been a cradle of many civilizations like the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Phrygians, Luvians, Byzantines, Seljuk, and the Ottomans because of its countless underground hot water sources, natural heritage, nice climate, and pools, which are between 35 °C (95 °F) to 100 °C (212 °F).


The geologic structure of it is a chemical and geological bond of hot water springing from 320 meters depth and deposits of calcium carbonate on the surface up to 60-70 meters above the ground surface.


Analysis says that:

"The water supersaturated by calcium hydro carbonate reaches the surface, carbon dioxide is gassing out and the rest of it is depositing as carbon dioxide structures and reaction continues until the carbon dioxide in the thermal water reaches equilibrium with the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Surely this reaction is affected by the ambient temperature, weather conditions, and the flow duration."


Ca (HCO3)2 >> CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O


"Measurements made at the source of the springs find atmospheric levels of 725 mg/l carbon dioxide, by the time this water flows across the travertines, this figure falls to 145 mg/l. Likewise calcium carbonate falls from 1200 mg/l to 400 mg/l and calcium 576.8 mg/l to 376.6 mg/l. From these results, it is calculated that 499.9 mg of CaCO3 is deposited on the travertine for every liter of water. This means that for a flow rate of 1 l/s of water 43,191 grams (1,523.5 oz) are deposited daily."


"The average density of a travertine is 1.48 g/cm3 implying a deposit of 29.2 dm3. Given that the average flow of the water is 465.2 l/s this implies that it can whiten 13,584 square meters (146,220 sq ft) a day, but in practice, this area coverage is difficult to attain. These theoretical calculations indicate that up to 4.9 square kilometers it can be covered with a white deposit of 1 millimeter (0.039 in) thickness."


The terraces have cascaded on the side of the Cal Mountain from countless volcanic springs and spring waters for thousands of years, which is a result of earthquakes and tectonic movements in the area.

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There is a legend about Pamukkale. The tale tells the story an ugly girl, who no one wants to marry. She commits suicide by throwing herself off the travertine, falling into one of the natural pools of Pamukkale and becomes to a very beautiful girl.


She then gets the attention of the Lord right before she passes away who falls in love with her and they get married, living happily ever after.


To protect the mesmerizing geologic heritage, the ministry has banned walking in the area, but you can walk on the south part of the travertines barefoot.


If you like to visit the Pamukkale, check out the website to get further information.

SEE ALSO: Ten major geothermal power resources


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