I’ve been home from my travels for about a month and thoughts tend to turn to what amazing place can we go to next? 😀 Everyone has to have something to look forward to right? So I’ve been looking for pictures of where you can go to see the auroras (north or south, I’m not fussy) and instead keep stumbling onto pics of some The Most Amazing Natural Phenomena in The World! This is a list of some of the cool stuff I have found so far…
Asperatus clouds – apparently so rare they have only been classified since about 2009, no one knows much about them, so it’s hard to predict where they may occur.
Bioluminescent waters of the Maldives – can you imagine swimming in this gorgeous phosphorescent sea? Caused by phytoplankton in the sea, I have seen tiny examples of this in beaches in Australia, but this would be magical! Calcifying lakes in Africa – beautiful and dangerous, with such ridiculously high salt content, that animals that get to close literally calcify from dehydration and look like they are turning to stone.Columnal basalt rock formations – okay, this is definitely on my list thanks to the Great Puffin Incident of 1995… seen at the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland as well as Fingal Caves in Scotland and created by lava plateaus that cooled and fractures into these unique landmarks. Painted Danxia Landforms – beautifully surreal mountains created by sandstone and layers of minerals shaped by wind and rain into ravines, pillars and rock formations.
Eternal lightning storm in Venezuela – at the mouth of the Catatumbo River, weather conditions and topography exists that creates an almost permanent storm that creates what is known as Catatumbo lightning on up to 160 days a year, for up to 10 hours a day and 280 strikes an hour. Would love to see that! Fairy rings in Namibia – thousands of circles up to 30 feet across that are apparently made by termites killing off vegetation so that any moisture is available for the insects’ use and not plants. Looks interesting, but the bugs would out me off looking for this place. Spider webs in Australia after flooding – thousands and thousands of spiders spinning webs above floodwater level just to freak us out. Yep, so not ever putting this on my ‘to go to’ list, but it is a cool photo. Fire rainbows – created by light reflecting from ice crystals in very high clouds, often appearing parallel o the horizon. Looks beautiful, sounds really bloody cold. Great flowering desert in Chile – obviously you need to pick to go at the right time of year, because this doesn’t look too appealing. Second view in spring however, looks amazing. Frost flowers – so pretty. Mostly found in Arctic ares (why is all the pretty stuff in the freezing cold!), the flower ice formations form on thin sea ice when the atmosphere is colder than the ice. When the warmer air from the ice meets the colder air, funky ice crystals form making fields of frosty flowers.
Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan – da.da.da! Sounds dramatic and probably looks awesome. It’s been burning since 1971 when natural gas emitted from cracks in the land were set alight. Apparently there is another similar phenomena in Iraq that they claim has been 4,000 years… why does the cool stuff have to be so remote? 🙂 Underground glacial caves – ice caves formed by water erodes into the glacier. So beautiful from the blue glacial ice, which is formed by tightly packed ice. I went to the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska (bottom photo), but oddly enough, there were no guided tours offered for your average tourist to go adventuring in enormous underground ice caverns.
Blue holes in Belize – these were apparently formed during the last Ice Age when the water level was much lower and the holes were basically formed by erosion. The sea water rises and the holes filled up, creating a unique scuba diving opportunity and a rare underwater environment. Very cool. Horsetail Falls – tumbling down the side of El Capitain in Yosemite, these enormous waterfalls have a few days a year in February when the light hits them just so, causing them to light up like they are on fire. Yosemite is definitely on my list.
Lenticular cloud formations – these clouds are created by layers of moist air flowing over a mountain and they pile up into a strange UFO/hat shape. I saw tiny lenticular cloud forms when I was in Canada an they were way cool – but probably hard to go hunting as a holiday destination. Russian light pillars – these pillars of light are formed by natural light reflecting off flat and smooth light crystals but are only visible under extremely cold weather conditions … which I imagine for Russia, is bitterly cold. So maybe not. Maelstroms – this one is called Saltstraumen, located off Norway. These powerful whirlpools are created by conflicted tidal flows meeting and can easily suck down swimmers and small boats. I’d love to see one, but have a feeling going near anything like this is just bloody stupid.Monarch butterfly migration – from North America to Mexico, the butterfly migrate 2,500 miles to seek out warmer weather for winter. Millions of them swarm together filling the sky with black and orange… ooh. aah. pretty.
Nacreous clouds in the Arctic – these gorgeous formations actually appear very rarely in the stratosphere due to a complete lack of moisture closer to the earth for cloud formation. Apparently they have been seen in extreme polar winters when there is just enough moisture to form, and occur about 12 miles above the earth. I would love to see that. So cold though.Sailing Stones, Death Valley, California. These are so cool. Always wanted to go hunting for rocks that creep along the ground by themselves. For ages, no one knew how they moved, but it turns out that in the winter, tiny ice crystals formed around the rocks and then slide across the moisture in the mud, leaving crazy trails behind them. Some of them are like, 300kgs!
Now this would be cool – the Sardine Run off South Africa. Apparently the sardines move by the billions from cool waters at Cape Point to the East Coast of South Africa. When the sardines are on the move, there are so many of them, they can be seen from satellites in space and sharks in feeding frenzies take full advantage of their sheer numbers. Scuba diving anyone? Sky punch clouds – a sky punch appears in clouds when ice crystals in the middle of a cloud formation begin to evaporate. No idea how you predict where they would be – but cool natural phenomena. Fumarole snow chimneys – normal fumaroles are vents which allow steam to vent from areas of volcanic activity. If these vents are in Arctic areas, the moisture venting from the fumarole freezes as soon as it meets the air creating funky looking snow chimneys. Again… why is so much of all the groovy stuff in the areas of the earth where you’re likely to freeze your fricken butt off? Fly Geyser, Nevada – this unusual place was discovered accidentally sometime in the 60s when well drilling for geothermal energy sources was being performed on the Fly Ranch in Nevada. So while not 100% a natural phenomena, the resulting geyser has brought to the surface numerous minerals that have been flowing into 30-40 pools across a 34 hectacre area, enabling thermophilic algae to thrive, which creates the beautiful striped colours on the geyser. It’s on private property though, so bugger on that front. Moeraki Boulders, South Island, New Zealand – these rock formations are naturally formed spherical boulders at Keokehe Beach. The giant balls were formed up to 60 million years ago under the seafloor by compressed sediment hardening into stone. I have been to these boulders three times – taken pics of my kids clambering on them! – and think they are one of the coolest natural phenomena ever.
Spotted Lake, British Columbia, Canada – as the water evaporates from this lake near Osoyoos, various minerals pool together together to form what look like large lily pads. Each pool of minerals has a different shape and colour due to the wide variety found in the lake.
Steam towers in Iceland – the region of Hverir is naturally high in geothermal activity which sees large towers of steam emanate from the boiling water and mud in the area. When combined with the ethereal beauty of the northern lights, the steam towers create an otherworldly landscape. Striated glacial icebergs – the gorgeous stripes form in icebergs in various ways. Sometimes when crevices fill with water and freezes so quickly that no bubbles form creating bright blue stripes. Green stripes appear when algae attaches to icebergs as they tumble into the seas, and the brown, black and yellowish lines are caused by sediment, exactly the same way stripes are formed in glaciers. Very cool… whether at a glacier face or floating along in the ocean as an iceberg.
Supercells – I know a lot of people chase tornadoes and they can be dangerous and exciting and crazy to watch. I don’t think I am one of those people. Supercell storms are formed the same way as any other storm, but they have a vertical rotation which allows the storm to sustain itself much longer. Underwater crop circles? These strange 7 foot diameter ‘crop circles’ were first seen on the ocean floor off Japan and for a long time puzzled divers as to how they were created. Turns out they are made by tiny male puffer fish, no bigger than 5″ long, and the crazy little guys make them in the hope of attracting a mate.
Volcanic lightning – volcanic eruptions create an extraordinary amount of static and electrical charge, which on rare occasions can cause a violent lightning storm to spark in the volcanic plume. I think this would be amazing to see! Slight downside, it probably involves risking life and limb to get anywhere near it…And this must be my favourite weird arse natural phenomena…
Frozen Methane Bubbles! Methane bubbles form, when dead organic matter falls to the bottom of a body of water and is decomposed by various bacteria. The methane gas becomes frozen in the water, creating beautiful patterns of frozen bubbles. It’s really quite stunning, but I don’t think anyone would let me anywhere near them… I’d be sitting there with a lighter waiting for them the bubbles to melt out! 😛