Earth never stops surprising us. Every
corner of the planet offers some sort of natural peculiarity with an
explanation that makes us wish wed studied harder in junior high Earth science class.
Blood Falls, Antarctica
Most people wont see Blood Falls in person, but even in photographs, the sight is arresting: a blood-red waterfall staining the snow-white face of Taylor Glacier. Glaciologists and microbiologists have sought to determine what causes the mysterious red flow. Theyve concluded that the source is a subterranean lake rich in the iron that gives the water its red hue. Stranger still, recent research has revealed microorganisms living 1,300 feet beneath the ice, sustained by the iron and sulfur in the water.
What appears to be a Doctor Zhivago-style snowy landscape in southwestern Turkey is actually the result of calcium carbonate deposits from 17 natural hot springs accumulating over thousands of years. Beginning in the late second century B.C., this area near present-day Denizli was a destination for those who sought the therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich water whose temperature reaches upward of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Today, you can see remnants of the baths at the ancient holy city of Hierapolis, but its the stunning terraces, cliffs and petrified white waterfalls of Pamukkale Turkish for "Cotton Palace" that give it remarkable natural beauty.
Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, California
How ordinary stones manage to "sail" over the surface of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park is a mystery people have tried to solve since 1915, when a prospector and his wife noticed tracks that seemed to indicate that the stones had somehow traveled across the dry earth. Short of cosmic intervention, the stones required terrestrial forces to move them.
But what forces? The current prevailing theory about the "sailing stones" of Racetrack Playa, presented by a team of physicists in 2011, involves ice that forms around the stones, causing them to move and to leave a trail in their wake. Many visitors still hope for a more mystical explanation.
Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park, New York
Behind the cascade of a small waterfall in the Shale Creek Preserve section of Chestnut Ridge Park in suburban Buffalo, New York, you might see what appears to be an optical illusion: a flickering golden flame. Actually, youll smell it before you see it, and amazingly, its real, fueled by what geologists call a macroseep of natural gas from the Earth below.
A geological fault in the shale allows about 1 kilogram of methane gas per day to escape to the surface, where, at some point, possibly the early 20th century, a visitor had the idea to set it alight. The water occasionally extinguishes the flame, but theres always another hiker with a lighter to reignite it.
Eye of Africa, Mauritania
The Eye of Africa (also known as the Eye of the Sahara) lies within the large east-African country of Mauritania, out in the Sahara Desert. Properly known as the Richat Structure, it is easy to see where its nickname comes from. Looking at it from above, it looks a lot like a big blue eye staring out of the ground.
Christ of the Abyss at San Fruttuoso, Italy near Portofino
The Christ of the Abyss is a bronze statue placed 17 meters deep in 1954 on the bottom of the bay of San Fruttuoso, between Camogli and Portofino, within the Marine Protected Area of Portofino Promontory. The idea to put the statue on the seabed, was Marcante Duilio following the death of Dario Gonzatti during a dive in 1950. The statue, about 2.50 meters high and built by sculptor Guido Galletti, was laid on August 22 thanks to the Italian Navy and many divers. The hands of Christ, addressed to the surface, are open as a symbol of peace.
The Great Rann of Kutch (worlds largest salt desert), Gujarat, India
The Rann of Kutch, also known as the Great Rann of Kutch, is a remarkable place to visit in Gujarat, India. Its the worlds largest salt desert, measuring over 16,000 square kilometers. What makes it even more amazing is that its underwater during the main monsoon season in India. For the remaining eight months of the year, its an enormous stretch of packed white salt. The vast expanse that is the Rann of Kutch borders the top of the Kutch district,approximately 86 kilometers from Bhuj, which is being developed by the Gujarat government as the Gateway to the Rann of Kutch.
Horsetail Falls, Yosemite National Park in California
Horsetail Fall, located in Yosemite National Park in California, is a seasonal waterfall that flows in the winter and early spring. The fall occurs on the east side of El Capitan. If Horsetail Fall is flowing in February and the weather conditions are just right, the setting sun illuminates the waterfall, making it glow orange and red. This natural phenomenon is often referred to as the "Firefall," a name that pays homage to the manmade Firefall that once took place in Yosemite.
Mysterious Crooked Forest in Poland
In a tiny corner in north-west Poland near Gryfino, is a forest of about 400 pine trees that grow with a 90 degree bend at the base of their trunks, before rising vertically again. This collection of curved trees has been named the "Crooked Forest". The way the trunks are curved and all bent towards the same direction - northward - the cause of the curvature appear to be man made as opposed to natural. It is estimated that the trees were allowed to grow for seven or ten years before being held down for a purpose unknown.
Worlds Largest Cave: Son Doong Cave in Vietnam
The Son Doong Cave in Vietnam is the biggest cave in the world. Its over 5.5 miles long, has a jungle and river, and could fit a 40-story skyscraper within its walls. Son Doong cave is more than 200 meters wide, 150 meters high, and approx 9 kilometers long, with caverns big enough to fit an entire city street inside them, twice as large as Deer Cave in Malaysia (currently considered the worlds largest with 90 meters wide, 100 meters high and 2 kilometers long). Son Doong cave was classified as the largest cave in the world by BCRA and selected as one of the most beautiful in the globe. A local man discovered the cave entrance in 1991, but British cavers were the first to explore it in 2009. Now, tour company Oxalis is running trial tours of the cave.
Amazing Fly Geyser in Nevada, USA
Fly Geyser is a very little known tourist attraction, even to Nevada residents. Located about 100 miles north of Reno, Nev., is the tiny town of Gerlach. Twenty miles north of that is Fly Ranch, home to one of the most unique geysers in the world. It is located right near the edge of Fly Reservoir and is only about 5 feet high, 12 feet if you count the mound on which it sits. The Geyser is not an entirely natural phenomenon, and was accidentally created in 1916 during well drilling, the geyser started spewing water in the 1960s when a geothermally heated pack of water found a weak spot in the wall and began escaping. Dissolved minerals rose and accumulated creating the mound on which the geyser sits. Water now continually spews into the air, reaching up to 5 feet, making it resemble a miniature volcano. Fly Ranch is a private property thats protected by a heavy-duty fence. Owners are happy to give tours of the geyser, but you have to contact them first and arrange for them to let you in.