Dallol, Danakil Desert
Some have called this the “cruelest place on Earth.” Dallol is a volcano hidden beneath a kilometer-thick layer of salt in the Danakil depression in the Afar region, Ethiopia (at ~120 m below sea level). It manifests itself by an incredible variety of colorful springs and fumaroles in an alian landscape of salt, sulphur and other mineral deposits.
The term Dallol was coined by the Afar people and means dissolution or disintegration describing a landscape made up of green acid ponds ( pH-values less than 1) iron oxide, sulfur and salt desert plains.
Many volcanoes exist in the region, including Erta Ale and the Dabbahu Volcano.
Lencois Maranhenses a Desert With Lagoons
Located in the State of Maranhão, on the north shore of Brazil, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is an area of about 300 square kilometers (155,000 ha) of blinding white dunes and deep blue lagoons, forming one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. The dunes invade the continent over 50km (31 miles) from the cost, creating a landscape that reminds a white bed sheet, when seen from above.
Lençóis Maranhenses looks like an archetypal desert. In fact it isn’t actually a desert. Lying just outside the Amazon basin, the region is subject to a regular rain season during the beginning of the year. The rains cause a peculiar phenomenon: fresh water collects in the valleys between sand dunes, spotting the desert with blue and green lagoons that reach their fullest between July and September.
The area is also surprisingly home to a variety of fish which, despite the almost complete disappearance of the lagoons during the dry season, have their eggs brought from the sea by birds.
Glow Worm Caves
The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is a cave filled with thousands of glowing glow-worms on the North Island of New Zealand. These glowworms are found exclusively in New Zealand and around the size of an average mosquito.
The Spotted Lake
Spotted Lake is a saline endorheic alkali lake located northwest of Osoyoos in British Columbia and is very highly concentrated with numerous different minerals.
In the summer, most of the water in the lake evaporates leaving behind all the minerals. Large “spots” on the lake appear and depending on the mineral composition at the time, the spots will be different colors. The spots are made mainly of magnesium sulfate, which crystallizes in the summer. Since in the summer, only the minerals in the lake remain, they harden to form natural “walkways” around and between the spots.
Spotted Lake contains some of the highest quantities in the world of magnesium sulfate, calcium and sodium sulphates.
The Mysterious Holes of Sarisarinama
The Sarisarinama is situated on the edges of the Amazonas and Gran Sabana provinces in southern Venezuela. Also known as the Sarisarinama Tepuy, it stands as one of the remotest mountains in the whole of Latin America.
The Sarisarinama has always astonished people by its mysterious holes or the ‘simas’. These are huge perfectly circular stone depressions, which are 350 meters deep and 350 meters wide. Till date biologists and geologists have been amazed by the challenging mystery of the simas. Some believe that the simas are caused due to underground water erosion. To discover these holes, mountaineers start the climb from the northern side of Sarisarinama and reach the simas by foot.
The Southern Patagonian Icefield of Chile and Argentina hosts several spectacular glaciers—including Grey Glacier located in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. This glacier, which in 1996 had a measured total area of 270 square kilometers and a length of 28 kilometers (104 square miles in area, 17 miles long), begins in the Patagonian Andes Mountains to the west and terminates in three distinct lobes into Grey Lake.
The Río Tinto
The Río Tinto is a river in southwestern Spain that originates in the Sierra Morena mountains of Andalusia. Since ancient times, a site along the river has been mined for copper, silver, gold, and other minerals.
As a result of the mining, Río Tinto is notable for being very acidic (pH 2) and its deep reddish hue is due to iron dissolved in the water.
This river has gained recent scientific interest due to the presence of extremophile aerobic bacteria that dwell in the water. These life forms are considered the likely cause of the high acid content of the water. The subsurface rocks on the river bed contain iron and sulfide minerals on which the bacteria feed.
The extreme conditions in the river may be analogous to other locations in the solar system thought to contain liquid water, such as subterranean Mars. NASA scientists have also directly compared the chemistry of the water in which the rocks of Meridiani Planum ( Mars ) were deposited in the past with the Río Tinto.