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Bureau launches project to save eroding Queen's Head

TAIPEI -- The Tourism Bureau began preparations Thursday for repairs on the iconic Queen's Head rock formation at Yehliu Geopark in New Taipei, in a bid to protect the popular tourist attraction from further erosion.

Capitalizing on the sunny weather, which is essential to an experiment on how best to preserve the rock, a group of specialists led by Hsieh Kuo huang, a professor at National Taiwan University's Institute of Polymer Science and Engineering, injected various nano-sealants into four less-popular rock formations with a similar structure to the Queen's Head.

The team has coded the rocks A, B, C and D and applied different treatments to them to compare the results.

Rock A was given three layers of water-proof remedy, while B, C, and D received extra enhancements applied at different parts of the injection process, it said.

Comprised of nano-sealant mixed with gravel, the remedy can help resist winds up to 250 kilometers per hour and magnitude-7.0 earthquakes, according to the Tourism Bureau.

The results of the tests will be monitored for a year to determine which repair technique is most appropriate for the Queen's Head itself, said bureau official Chen Mei-hsiu.

Kuo Chen-ling, an official at the tourism authority, said they hope the project will manage to maintain the distinctive appearance of the Queen's Head without changing the landscape.

“The priority is to maintain the natural scenery and not alter the rocks' structure,” Kuo said.

If, after a year of observation, the experimental treatments are found to cause the rocks to clash with the environment, the bureau will consider alternative plans for preservation, he said.

According to Chen, natural erosion has caused the circumference of the queen's “neck” to shrink from 144 centimeters in 2006 to 126 cm in 2013.

Its circumference is expected to be reduced by a further 2 cm each year and it could break completely within the next 5-10 years, she said.

The repair work came after a clear majority of respondents to a June survey said they favor using artificial means to protect the landmark rather than letting it erode naturally, the bureau said.

The rock, believed to be around 4,000 years old, was named for a passing resemblance to the profile of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) of England.

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The Queen's Head, left, and a newly identified “playful princess,” right, located in Yehliu Geopark, are seen in this combination photo. These rocks' special shapes are the result of erosion by seawater. The Queen's Head has long been a popular attraction and landmark in Yehliu Geopark. (Courtesy of Yehliu Geopark )

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