Fate of 'Queen's Head' uncertain despite efforts to save it

05/25/2015 09:56 PM

Taipei, May 25 (CNA) The "Queen's Head," the most famous rock formation in Yehliu Geopark, faces an uncertain fate despite an all-out effort to prevent its thinning neck from snapping, the North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area said Monday.

Kuo Chen-ling (郭振陵), the secretary-general of the scenic area administration, said Monday that experiments done on four mushroom rocks near the Queen's Head have found that nanotechnology can prevent erosion, but it still has some drawbacks that have yet to be overcome.

In the experiments done over the past nine months, nanotechnology has proven that it could reinforce the queen's neck and delay the weathering process, Kuo said.

But it has also caused the rocks to whiten and slivers of the rocks' surfaces to break off amid the dramatic changes in temperature, moisture and sunshine on the North Coast, he said.

"We have high expectations for the nanotechnology, but we also welcome everyone to provide their valuable views," Kuo said.

He said the outdoor experiments must successfully maintain the appearance, color and sense of beauty of the rocks being tested before the nanotechnology approach can be applied to the "Queen's Head."

Due to the thinning of the neck of the popular queen's head (from 144 centimeters in 2006 to the present 126 cm), the government has looked for "other new loyal family members" in the Yehliu Geopark, such as a "cute princess," but the "queen's head" seems to be irreplaceable.

In 2011, the national scenic area commissioned a team headed by National Taiwan University professor Hsieh Kuo-huang (謝國煌) to begin research on saving the "Queen's Head."

The national scenic area conducted an opinion poll which showed that 63 percent of the people and Wanli residents supported using nanotechnology to fix the rock, and over half the tourists and scholars surveyed also favored the technology.

At the end of August 2014, Hsieh's research team chose four mushroom rocks near the "Queen's Head" to begin its experiment.

Even in the worst case scenario where the head cannot be saved, Kuo said, polls show that 70 percent of visitors surveyed would still be willing to visit Yehliu Geopark to see the other attractions.

According to the scenic area administration, Chinese tourists made 2.01 million visits to Yehliu Geopark last year, followed by Taiwan residents at 700,000 visits, and visitors from South Korea, Southeast Asia, Japan, the United States and Great Britain.

(By Sunrise Huang and Lilian Wu)

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