Geological formations present us with some of the most amazing landscapes on Earth. If the number of types of rock and the ways they are formed aren't fascinating enough, the movements of the Earth and the elements combine to create geological formations that sometimes appear to be out of this world. Here are some of my favorites.
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Abraham Lake’s Frozen Air Bubbles
On the North Saskatchewan River in western Alberta, Canada, lies Abraham Lake, an artificial lake constructed in 1972, along with the Bighorn Dam. The unique anomaly of frozen bubbles right beneath the ice’s surface is one of the most visually stunning geological formations, and hundreds of photographers flock to the lake every year. The rare bubbles are produced by plants on the lake bed, which release methane gas; upon rising to the colder surface waters, the methane freezes in its bubbles. As the weather grows colder during the winter, the bubbles keep stacking up, creating the spectacular (and very photogenic) effect.
Mexico’s Natural Underground Springs
The Yucatan Peninsula is quite rare in its construction and distinctive, with its porous limestone shelving creating large tunnels and sinkholes reaching to the depths of the Earth. These natural underground tunnels are called cenotes, and the Yucatan Peninsula is home to two thousand of them, often linked by underground rivers. In ancient times, these cenotes were the primary water source, and were also symbolically significant as they were seen as passageways to the underworld. The ethereal feeling these other-worldly rivers produce draws thousands to explore them each year.
Maldives’ Shimmering Shores
The startling pinpricks of light which shimmer upon the shore of Vaadhoo, Maldives is a result of phytoplankton, marine microbes which are bioluminescent (“glowing” in layman’s terms). The phytoplankton’s cell membrane responds to electrical signals, producing their eerie, yet beautiful glow. Though not, technically, a geological formation, the biological aspect of these algae blends seamlessly into the shores, creating the illusion that the night sands mirror the heavens.
Bolivia’s Reflective Salt Flats
The world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni, can be found in Bolivia, covering an impressive 10,582 square kilometers. Located near the crest of the Andes, the Salar was created by the transformative conjunction of a number of prehistoric lakes. The flat’s salt crust lays atop a lithium-rich pool of brine, and the expansive area that Salar covers, combined with the rare surface flatness and clear skies, results in the world’s largest mirror: a great place for Narcissus to dwell.
Moscow’s Light Pillars
This optical phenomenon recalls something out of a sci-fi movie; however, the geological formation of light pillars is quite naturally created by the reflection of sunlight or moonlight cast through ice crystals present in the Earth’s atmosphere. The thin vertical columns appear below a light source when the sun is low or hanging beyond the horizon. The light pillars in Moscow are prominently visible at certain times of year, casting eerie arcs of light over the city.
Arizona’s Unique Sandstone Waves
“The Wave” in Arizona is a result of eroded Navajo Sandstone forming itself into intersecting U-shaped troughs since the Jurassic era. In the beginning, the troughs were eroded by infrequent water runoff, but after a time, the rainwater drainage basin diminished, and so there was no longer water to erode; however, the wind took over, cutting into the erosional steps and risers of the walls. The fragility of the soft sandstone makes “The Wave” a geological formation to see, but perhaps not to touch.
Antarctica’s Blood Falls
A rare iron-oxide saltwater plume streams from the tongue of the Taylor Glacier in Victoria Land, East Antarctica, resulting in what is known as a “blood falls.” The sporadic emergence of iron-rich water from the ice cascades’ fissures was first discovered by Australian geologist, Griffith Taylor, in 1911, and has since boggled the minds of all who spot the bright red spurt in the white of the Antarctic ice sheet..
There are amazing geological formations all around us, and we probably never even notice or think about those on our own doorstep. Have you got any near you worth telling us about?
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