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September 21, 2017

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Public backs repairs to Queen's Head: poll

TAIPEI--A clear majority of people favor using artificial means to protect the iconic Queen's Head rock formation at Yehliu Geopark in New Taipei from erosion, according to the results of a survey released by the Tourism Bureau on Saturday.

Sixty-three percent of respondents favored rescuing the Queen's Head after geological experts said the circumference of the rock's neck has decreased drastically due to natural erosion and could break off in five to 10 years.

The projection sparked heated debate over whether to let the formation wear away naturally or repair it by artificial means, and a poll was held to settle the question, according to the Yehliu Geopark's operator, the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration.

Jinn P. Chu, a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, said injecting a nano sealant into the rock formation would improve its erosion resistance and solidify its structure.

But other risks could surface once the injected material begins to deteriorate over time, Chu warned.

He also stressed that the sealant would have to be ceramic-based rather than metal-based because metal materials are more prone to rust in seaside locations.

The North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area Administration has commissioned a group of specialists led by Kuo-Huang Hsieh, a professor in National Taiwan University's Institute of Polymer Science and Engineering, to explore techniques to solidify the Queen Rock's neck since 2011.

The experts tested the nano materials on other mushroom-shaped rock necks and found that their circumference has remained stable over time and that they were hard enough to resist strong typhoons or earthquakes, the scenic area administration said.

Those experiments were performed indoors, however, and the administration said experiments will be conducted outdoors on rocks similar to the Queen's Head at the Geopark for one year.

Repair work on the Queen's Head rock will start only after all conditions have been met, it said.

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