The Unexpected Sight
It was quite an unexpected sight for me to see two streams flowing from the same mountain having two different colors. There is a story about an unexpected find on this mountain which I will tell later in the blog.
The two streams, the Rofenache and the Niedertalbach both flow along the flanks of the exact same mountain (Upper Oetztal Mountain) to converge in the town of Vent, Austria to form the Venter Ache River in photo #1.
I did not do any post processing to these photos.
How can the glaciers on the same mountain produce two different colored streams?
The blue water comes from the Niederjoch glacier which is at approximately 3200-3600 meters elevation, located directly on the Italian-Austria border.
Glacier water has a typical turquoise color because it contains "rock flour" which is fine-grained silt-sized particles of rock that are suspended in the water and carried by the stream.
The rock flour absorbs the shortest light waves containing indigo and purple colors and scatters the rest of the light. The blue-green color comes when the sun shines on the water and the long waves of the spectrum are absorbed: the reds, oranges and yellow.
The brown color of the Rofenache comes from the biological matter such as dirt, plants, and algae which get added to the glacier melt in the stream.
Vent is well known for hikers and mountaineers and the Upper Oetztal Mountains are a popular track because of their glaciers and beautiful views.
The Unexpected Find
On the 19th of September 1991 (28 years ago today) two German tourists who were hiking around the Tisenjoch peak at 3200 meters on this mountain made an unexpected find.
As they were hiking the pass between the peaks of Hauslabjoch and Tisenjoch, they came across a dead body. They assumed it was a hiker who had recently had an accident and reported it to the authorities once they got back into town.
The body turned out to be a perfectly preserved naturally occuring mummy which was about 5300 years old.
The man referred to as "Oetzi" in the German language (Ice Man in English) lived sometime between 3400 and 3100 BC.
The cause of his death was a real murder mystery which took over a decade for the international forensic teams to solve.
It is believed that Oetzi bled to death after an arrow shattered the scapula and damaged nerves and blood vessels before lodging near the lung.
Unfortunately I don't have any photos of Oetzi because his body is on display in Bolzano, Italy in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology which is pretty far from where we were staying.
- The Color of Water: https://thequantumbra.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/the-colour-of-glacial-lakes/
- Oetzi - the Ice Man: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%96tzi