Mother Nature will never cease to amaze mankind, simply because of her unpredictability. Some of the most fascinating things in life are the natural phenomenons that occur around the world. They have the power to mesmerise us and leave us compelled by their sheer beauty, uniqueness and plain freakishness. Here is a list of ten of the very weirdest, freakish and most fascinating of all the world’s natural phenomena.
1. Old Faithful
Yellowstone’s is the world’s best known geyser because of its consistent eruptions nearly every hour. Up to 8,400 gallons of scalding hot water shoot up to the heavens reaching heights of over 100 feet. It was first discovered in 1870 and since then over 30,000 eruptions have been recorded. Like a performing whale at Sea World this geyser attracts thousands of tourists a year.
Kelimutu in Indonesia attracts visitors because of its three magnificent crater lakes, all of varying colours. It is located in the summit of a 1,639 metre high volcano on the island of Flores and the three lakes change their colours frequently. It all depends on the time of the year and their changing mineral content. Although they are prone to regular changes the main colour of Tiwu Ata Polo (the Lake of the Bewitched People) and Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (the Lake of Young Men and Maidens) are deep reddish-brown or green. Lying to the west of these is Tiwu Ata Mbupu (the Lake of Old People), which is more of a blue colour.
In August 1883 the Javanese island of Krakatoa vanished forever from one single, violent explosion. Exactly 80 years later a new volcanic island emerged in its place totally out of the blue. It was discovered that this was caused by a continuing series of less ferocious volcano eruptions beneath the sea south of Iceland. In just two days enough lava and scoria had been thrown to the surface causing an island to form, which measured a third of a mile from end to end. Wind and erosion has diminished its size since its first appearance but this has not deterred some animals setting up home on the island. Residents include seals, puffins, whooper swans, common ravens and various geese.
4. Dead Sea
As the guy in the picture demonstrates it is perfectly easy to float on the Dead Sea and read a newspaper. The reason for this is that it is 25% salt (normal sea water is around 4-6). Obviously no marine life can live in the Dead Sea either and with the increased density of the water floating is the natural occurrence. The Dead Sea, interestingly, is not only the lowest place on the planet but it is also the hottest, besides the inside of a volcano of course!
5. Petrified Forest
Lying just off the Arizona I-40 highway, deep into the desert between Holbrook and Navajo is the Petrified Forest. The “forest” comprises of fallen fossilised trees, mostly Araucarioxylon arizonicum, an ancient species of conifer, which have been mineralised into chalcedony and quartz. This process occurrs after the dead fallen trees become permeated by the mineral content of the sediments in which they are lying. This basically means that the wood of the tree eventually turns to stone.
6. Giant’s Causeway
Ireland’s one and only World Heritage site is this gigantic area covered in basalt columns and stones. The 38,000 stone columns were created after the eruption of a volcano around 60 million years ago. The lava rapidly cooled leaving these sightly columns behind. The locals, however, prefer to tell tourists another tale. They say that Fionn MacCumhaill (pronounced Finn McCool) created the area by throwing down enormous chunks of cliff to make stepping stones so that he could get to his lover on the Hebridean island of Staffa, or to walk to Scotland to fight the Scottish colossus, Benandonner. Hence the name of the place.
7. Pitch Lake
Pitch Lake is one of Trinidad’s biggest tourist attractions, seeing over 20,000 visitors per year. Unlike any other lake in the world this one is filled with a gloopy, thick mixture of bitumen, clay and saltwater. It covers more than 100 acres and has been used for asphalt, ever since Sir Walter Rayleigh first took some to caulk his ship’s timbers back in 1595. Unsurprisingly there is no life living in this ooze.
8. General Sherman
Not including coral reef or spreading fungi this famous Giant Sequoia in California is officially the largest living thing in the world. It is somewhere between 23 and 27 centuries old. Its trunk alone comprises almost 52,000 cubic feet of wood. It proudly stands at 275 feet tall, is more than 36 feet in diameter at its base and has a crown that spreads just over 106 feet! It was named in honour of the American Civil War general, William Sherman, by the naturalist James Wolverton who served under Sherman’s command.
9. Dachstein Caves
An impressive 150 miles of icy tunnels and spooky caverns make up the Dachstein Caves, Austria’s famous ice caves which are located near Lake Hallstatt. The magnificent ice columns, arches and spikes were formed by swirling air that melted parts of the ice. Deeper underground is a giant glacier but some of the most amazing sights can be seen on the travel down, where some parts of the ice have formed what looks like a huge ice cathedral.
10. Aurora Borealis
Otherwise known as the Northern Lights this mysterious yet beautiful natural phenomenon is said to be one of the greatest treasures in life if you are lucky enough to see them for yourself. The name Aurora Borealis comes from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas. There is also the Southern Lights aka Aurora Australis – the Latin word for South. The lights are a results of the Earth’s photons colliding with solar winds. You’ll only be lucky enough to see them if you visit certain parts of the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.