Get ready to have Mother Earth take your breath away!  Humans may have created some amazing things, but Mother Earth still takes top place for her displays of jaw-dropping creations. Some of them are so unbelievable, they don’t even look like they really exist. Here are a few awe-inspiring examples:

Blue Lava

There is a volcano in Indonesia that erupts blue lava. In reality, it is red but appears blue. This happens because of the pockets of sulfur that flow along the crevices. When sulfur is heated to high temperatures, (the lava is more than 1100 degrees Fahrenheit) it produces a lilac color. Therefore, when the heat of the lava come into contact with the sulfur in the crevices it changes color from red to blue and flows down the volcano as it’s new hue.

Calcifying Lake

 

Lake Natron, located in Tanzania, preserves the carcass of animals in a calcified state (the animals are already dead when the lake does this to them). It is able to do this because it’s waters consist of an odd mixture of natural chemicals. A mixture of sodium and carbonate and other minerals that flow into the lake, are what essentially mummify the dead animals.

Sometimes the mineral to water ratio is so high that the water becomes almost thick to the touch. Although, The pH level (10.5) of this lake can get so high, it can actually burn your skin and eyes. It is a level just shy of the alkalinity of ammonia. The calcified animals you see in the photos were posed into position by the photographer Nick Brandt.

Danxia Landforms

Found along the path of the Silk Road in Northwestern China’s Gansu Province, in the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park (a UNESCO heritage site), is a rainbow mountain range. The rock formation of these mountains are striped with bright colors that range from vivid reds, oranges, and yellows, to blues and greens.

These color layers are a result of the erosion of red sandstone (over millions of years) due to desert conditions like wind and weather. This geological park also offers several hiking areas and scenic overlooks to fully enjoy the marvelous colorful landscape.

Bioluminescent Waves

These glowing waves are crowded with a tiny bioluminescence marine life called dinoflagellate – a species of phytoplankton. These glittering creatures are found all over the planet’s oceans. What makes them shine is a chemical reaction that produces light.

They possess this ability to startle predators, or to draw the attention of other creatures that eat the original predators. The spectacular bioluminescent waves can occur when the nutrient levels in the water are high, while at the same time there is windless weather.  The photography is by George Krieger.

 

Christmas Island Crabs

Millions of these bright red crabs head to the water on Christmas Island every single year for spawning and egg-laying purposes. There are so many of them that they completely block off roads. The people have had to create road barriers, underpasses, and special bridges to protect the animals as they make their way to the beach.

 

Even so, these little critters sometimes get around these man-made barriers and cause road closures! Between 40 – 50 million of these land crabs live in their preferred shady sites all over the island. Then, when the timing is right (triggered by suitable rain) they all take on their annual trek together.

Auroras

Auroras happen as a result of the sun burping out a huge bubble of electrified gas that then travels through space at a very high speed. This extra burst of solar energy contains within it some small particles. On a normal day, this solar energy is shielded by the Earths protective magnetic field; but when the sun emits this extra burst of energy, some of these particles make their way into the Earths atmosphere and come into contact with atmospheric gasses.

Oxygen gives off green and red light. Nitrogen glows blue and purple.This happens at the north and south pole where the magnetic field is weakest. That is why those are the locations for witnessing this beautiful phenomenon.

Lenticular Clouds

 

These unique cloud formations are usually found near mountainous regions as they are formed by air cooling as it moves over mountains. What is different about lenticular clouds is the fact that they don’t move. Very rarely they can be seen in low-lying or flat terrain…but it is possible. These strange lens-shaped clouds have often been confused for UFO’s throughout history because of their smooth, perfectly round structure.

Volcanic Lightning

Normally, lightning in a traditional storm is attributed to ice crystals colliding. Volcanic lightning is different. Scientists are still not completely sure about how this type of lightning occurs.

Some scientists believe it could be caused by static electricity. What happens is air particles become charged, then the particles separate (via a collision of some sort). When the charged separation becomes too great, electricity flows. The result is lightning.

Supercell

 

This storm system may be beautiful to look at, but stay out of its way! They can be terrifyingly destructive. The reason a supercell is shaped that way is because it contains a mesocyclone – a persistent rotating updraft. Not only does that make it beautiful, but it can also cause the storm to last for hours. Although, you probably won’t see one since on the thunderstorm spectrum, supercells are the least common type of thunderstorm.

 

Door to Hell

This fiery inferno is located in the middle of the Karakum Desert of central Turkmenistan, just a little over 150 miles from the country’s capital. It wasn’t always there though. It came into existence back in 1971, when the republic was still part of the Soviet Union. There was a group of Soviet geologists who went to the Karakum in search of oil fields. When they came across what they believed to be a substantial oil field they began drilling.

What they were really drilling on top of though was a cavernous pocket of natural gas which wasn’t able to support the weight of their equipment. It caused a massive site collapse, costing them their equipment as well as triggering the crumbly sedimentary rock of the desert to collapse all around and elsewhere. It created a domino-effect that resulted in several open craters by the time all was said and done.

Now what they had on their hands was a problem of natural gas escaping from the craters, primarily methane which displaces oxygen making it difficult to breathe.  Humans can handle this displacement, but the small animals that lived around could not.  Shortly after the collapse, they all began to die.

To try to rectify this, the scientists decided to light the crater on fire (specifically the largest one that measures about 230-feet across and 65-feet deep) in hopes that all the dangerous natural gas would burn away eventually in a few weeks’ time. Now, nearly 50 years later, this “door to hell” is still burning.

Underwater Rivers

Located in the Yucatan, Angelita is a cenote that looks like any an ordinary swimming hole seen from land. You’d never know there is an underwater river inside unless you dive almost 100 feet into the sinkhole. It is normal for cenotes to be connected to subterranean bodies of water, and they often have vast underwater cave systems.

 

Overtime, the deep sinkholes of the cenotes have become filled with fresh rain water making them a swimming hole. These rivers below are formed when a top layer of fresh water (rainwater) meets up with salty underground water.

The layering of the differing densities creates a truly unique environment – the point where the two waters meet causes a milky sort of effect called “halocline”. By just looking at the photographs, you’d never know the river is underwater. You only realize this when you notice the diver.

Rainbow Eucalyptus

The bark of this stunning tree strips itself of its old outer layer to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue and gray.

Rainbow eucalyptus can grow up to 250 feet tall in it’s natural environment as long as it gets plenty of rain. Its massive size, intense color, and astringent fragrance makes seeing the tree an utterly unforgettable experience.

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