All About Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world, with a unique appearance for the region.

Why Is It Famous?

Its status as the biggest salt flat in the world makes Salar de Uyuni famous. It covers 10,582 square kilometers (which is 4,086 square miles).

Between the incredibly flat surface and the clear skies, Salar de Uyuni is also famous as a good spot to calibrate the altimeters in satellites.

What’s Nearby?

Salar de Uyuni is in southwest Bolivia’s Daniel Campos Province within Potosi. It is close to the Andes crest, which sits 3,656 meters above sea level.

Geological Description

Salar de Uyuni was created due to transformations of prehistoric lakes. The crust is salt in several meters and is extremely flat. Over the entire area of the landmark, the average variation in elevation is just one meter. The salt crust provides salt for the formation and covers a lithium-rich brine pool. This pool makes up 50-70 percent of the known reserves of lithium in the world.

After a rain, the entire flat has a thin layer of water. When calm, this water creates a natural mirror that is 129 kilometers across. The landmark is in the Altiplano of Bolivia. This high plateau was created when the Andes Mountains uplifted, and it includes salt flats, saltwater lakes, and freshwater lakes.

This area is a significant flamingo breeding ground for multiple species and the main Bolivian Altiplano transport route. It is also a transitional zone in climatology since the clouds on the eastern area of the flat in the summer cannot get past its drier western edges.

Events in Time

According to legend, the mountains around the Salar de Uyuni were giants. After Tunupa’s husband left her for another giant, she started to cry while breastfeeding. The tears and milk mixed, creating the Salar.

In Conclusion

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, can become a giant natural mirror following a rain, and is useful for calibrating altimeters.

All About Northern Lake Baikal, Russia

Northern Lake Baikal is a Russian lake with gorgeous turquoise waters, thanks to its giant shards of ice that are transparent.

This lake is the deepest in the world and is very large.

Why Is It Famous?

The combination of depth and appearance leads to the fame of Northern Lake Baikal. It is also the planet’s largest freshwater lake, with around 22-23 percent of all the freshwater on the planet. It is also the world’s oldest lake, giving it yet another claim to fame.

What’s Nearby?

This rift lake sits in southern Siberia, with the Buryat Republic in the southeast and Irkutsk Oblast in the northwest.

Geological Description

Experts agree that Northern Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest lake as it is more than 25 million years old. The lake also has a diverse ecosystem with over 2,000 types of fauna and flora, including 1,600 that are endemic to it. This is a rift lake, meaning its creation goes back to a rift valley with a crescent shape. The Baikal Rift Zone created it, and it has a seismically active fault zone.

The lake contains 23,615.39 cubic kilometers (5,670 cubic miles) of freshwater. Its reputation as the deepest lake in the world comes from its depth of 1,642 meters (5,387 feet). In terms of surface area, it is the seventh biggest lake.

The lake also has incredibly clear water that is among the clearest in the world. During the winter, the lake freezes and transparent ice forms along its surface, creating the illusion of ice that is turquoise.

Events in Time

Buryat tribes live on the eastern edge of the lake, where they raise horses, sheep, camels, goats, and cattle. UNESCO declared Northern Lake Baikal a World Heritage Site in 1996.

In Conclusion

Famous for its gorgeous turquoise ice and status as the biggest source of freshwater in the world and the world’s deepest lake, Northern Lake Baikal is 25 to 30 million years old.

All About the Meteor Crater, Arizona

The Meteor Crater in Arizona is the best-preserved meteor impact site anywhere on earth.

This makes it a favorite location of geologists, astronomers, and tourists alike.

Why Is It Famous?

This landmark is famous due to the high level of preservation of the meteor crash site. It gives us a glimpse of history and is incredibly unique. In the past, the site has been called the Canyon Diablo Crater. Fragments from the meteor go by the name of Canyon Diablo Meteorite.

What’s Nearby?

The Meteor Crater sits in Arizona’s High Desert. There is now a visitor center on the rim of it, along with a crater trail for visitors to explore. The Meteor Crater is close to Winslow, which is near old Route 66 and Interstate 40.

Geological Description

The crater was created around 50,000 years ago when a meteor hit the American Southwest. Experts estimate that it hit the earth with more energy than you could produce with 20 million tons of TNT. At the time of the impact, the Colorado Plateau was damper and cooler. The meteorite was likely around 160 feet (50 meters) in diameter. There is a debate about its likely speed, with estimates ranging from 29,000 mph to 45,000 mph.

The meteor sits 5,710 feet (1,740 meters) above sea level. It is 560 feet (170 meters) deep and 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) in diameter. The rim rises 148 feet (45 meters) over the plains around it. There are 690 to 790 feet of rubble in the center of the crater over its bedrock.

The crater has a squared-off outline that geologists believe was due to regional cracks to the strata at the site of impact.

Events in Time

Daniel Barringer was the first expert to suggest the crater came from a meteor, leading to scientists naming it the Barringer Crater. The Barringer Crater is privately owned. Because it is privately owned, it cannot be a national monument. However, the government declared it a National Natural Landmark in 1967.

In Conclusion

The Meteor Crater in Arizona’s desert shows the impact of a meteor that crashed into the area 50,000 years ago. Today, the area has rubble, and scientists have found pieces of meteorite there.

All About Chocolate Hills, Philippines

The Chocolate Hills in the Philippines are a unique geological formation that attracts both tourists and geologists.

Why Is It Famous?

The fame of the Chocolate Hills comes mainly from the hills’ appearance and number. There are at least 1,260 of these hills, although there may be up to 1,776, in an area of over 50 square kilometers.

The hills all have the same smooth shape and chocolatey brown color during the dry season. The hills are famous enough to appear on the Bohol province’s flag and seal. They are also among the country’s National Geological Monuments.

What’s Nearby?

The Chocolate Hills are in the Philippine’s Bohol province. The hills are specifically in the municipalities of Batuan, Sagbayan, and Carmen. There are also lower concentrations of the hills in Valencia, Bullones, Sierra, and Bilar.

Geological Description

The Chocolate Hills are mostly conical and symmetrical in shape. They are made of limestone that is covered in grass during most of the year. During the dry season, the grass does not grow, leading to the brown color. Between the hills are areas for cash crops like rice. Unfortunately, there are also quarrying activities, which threaten the hills’ natural vegetation.

The hills are karst hills of a conical shape, and they are similar to the karst hills found in other limestone regions around the world. The limestone in the Chocolate Hills contains an abundance of fossils. Geologists classify the hills as cockpit karst, created by limestone dissolved by rainfall, groundwater, and surface water. This, combined with subaerial erosion from streams and rivers after tectonic processes in the area, lifted them. You will find plains, springs, and caves between the hills.

Events in Time

There are several legends regarding how the Chocolate Hills formed. One indicates two giants had a fight and threw rocks and boulders at each other before becoming friends. There is also a romantic legend that says the hills are the tears of a giant who fell in love with a mortal who then died.

In Conclusion

The Chocolate Hills look like rows of chocolate drops during the dry season, making these limestone karst formations a popular destination.

All About the Australian Wave Rock

The Australian Wave Rock is a series of rocks in Australia that appear to be waves, made completely out of rocks.

Why Is It Famous?

The unique wave-like appearance of the rocks makes this landmark famous. The formation is the same shape of a tall ocean wave that is breaking, yet it is solid rock.

The Wave Rock also holds Ballardong cultural significance. Tribes believed the Rainbow Serpent created the rock when she dragged her body over land after consuming all the water there.

What’s Nearby?

The Wave Rock is around three kilometers east of Hyden, a small town. The formation is about 296 kilometers to the east-southeast of Perth in Western Australia. Both Hyden Rock and Wave Rock are in the Hyden Wildlife Park, which is a 160-hectare nature preserve.

Geological Description

The Wave Rock measures around 15 meters tall and is about 110 meters long. It sits on the northern side of Hyden Rock, a hill that is a granite inselberg. Wave Rock is part of Hyden Rock, the latter of which includes a 2.63-billion-year-old rock. This rock is biotite K-feldspar porphyritic monzogranite from the Yilgarn Craton.

The granite inselberg that is Hyden Rock includes three domes. A deep valley that acts as a reservoir separates the western and central domes. A low platform connects the eastern and central domes. Those domes were created via multi-stage landform development that involved weathering granite bedrock in the Cretaceous Period. The Wave Rock is a classic flared slope in geomorphology.

Events in Time

There is a wall halfway up on Hyden Rock and above Wave Rock. This wall follows the rock wall’s contours, collecting and funneling water into a storage dam. The Public Works Department of East Kalgarin District created the dam and wall in December 1928, with renovations in 1951 for a larger capacity.

In Conclusion

The Australian Wave Rock got its name for its wave-like appearance and is a geological flared slope that has played a role in local legends.

All About the Eye of Sahara

The Eye of the Sahara, also known as the Richat Structure, Guelb er Richat, and Eye of Africa, is a structure in the Sahara Desert that has an appearance similar to an eye.

The feature is circular with multiple concentric rings, a truly unusual appearance.

Why Is It Famous?

The unusual appearance of the Eye of the Sahara gives it its fame. Geologists know a reasonable amount of information about the structure, but there have still been questions within the past few years.

What’s Nearby?

As the name implies, the Eye of the Sahara is in the Sahara Desert. It is in the Adrar Plateau, which is close to Ouadane, a city in west-central Mauritania.

Geological Description

This structure is a dome that is slightly elliptical and deeply eroded. At its largest, the diameter is 40 kilometers. The dome exposes a series of sedimentary rock, ranging from Ordovician sandstone by the edges to Late Proterozoic rock in the center.

The sedimentary rocks in the structure go outwards at an angle between 10 and 20 degrees. Thanks to differential erosion of the quartzite’s resistant layers, there are circular cuestas in high relief. The center of the structure is a siliceous breccia over a 30-kilometer (or larger) area.

The Eye of the Sahara is of great interest to geologists due to the range of extrusive and intrusive igneous rocks in the center. These include kimberlites, carbonatites, gabbros, and rhyolitic volcanic rocks.

Those rhyolitic rocks include tuffaceous rocks that experienced hydrothermal alteration as well as lava flows. The Richat Structure also features amazing hydrothermal features, such as hydrothermal alteration of gabbros and rhyolites.

Events in Time

The first description of the Eye of Sahara was during the 1940s, with the name of the Richat Crater. The efforts to date the structure took place during the 1990s, with further efforts more recently.

In Conclusion

The unique eye-like appearance, size, and range of rocks within the Eye of the Sahara make it a favorite landmark of geologists and tourists alike.

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All About Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland consists of tens of thousands of interlocking basalt columns. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Why Is It Famous?

The unique appearance of the Giant’s Causeway gives the location its fame. It looks as if it should be the stepping stones of a giant. Its unique appearance has also led to various myths and legends regarding the area.

What’s Nearby?

To find the Giant’s Causeway, go to County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Bushmills is around three miles to the southwest of the site. You can freely access the site itself, although there is also a Visitor’s Centre, which charges admission.

Geological Description

The attraction is made up of 40,000 columns, each of which is made of basalt. Most have six sides and a hexagonal shape, with all of the columns featuring between four and eight sides. The solidified lava that forms the Giant’s Causeway’s columns can be as thick as 28 meters and as tall as 12 meters.

This structure began forming between 50 and 60 million years ago in the Paleocene Epoch. The area experienced intense volcanic activity. The basalt that was highly fluid and molten intruded through the chalk beds, creating a lava plateau. Over time, the lava cooled and contracted, leading to cracks flowing down. Those cracks created the pillar-like structures that make up the Giant’s Causeway today. It is common for the bottom face of the pillars to be convex with the lower segment’s upper face being concave, which is a ball and socket joint.

Events in Time

UNESCO designated the Giant’s Causeway as a World Heritage Site in 1986. The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland declared it a national nature reserve the following year. A poll in 2005 earned it the status as the fourth-best natural wonder in the U.K.

In Conclusion

The Giant’s Causeway looks like a series of stepping stones that giants could have used thousands of years ago. It is the result of lava from volcanic activity tens of millions of years ago that cooled to create pillars.

All About The Ohio River

Introduction

The Ohio River flows through and along the borders of six states in the United States before the mouth at the Mississippi River in Cairo, Illinois.

It’s the second largest river by discharge volume in the entire country, and it’s the largest tributary to the “Mighty Mississippi.”

Why is it famous?

When the Laurentide Ice Sheet dammed off the Teays River that was flowing north during the Illinoian glaciation, the area for drainage that the Teays used to follow was blocked off. As a result, the Ohio River was formed draining to the south somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million years ago.

Many Native American tribes formed along the Ohio River, and they used it for thousands of years as a trading route and method of transportation. The Europeans didn’t discover the river until the later part of the 17th century.

What’s nearby?                                  

There are plenty of famous sights and travel destinations scattered along the 979 miles of the Ohio River. The city of Pittsburgh and Point State Park are two places to see the river in Pennsylvania. Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, and Forked Run State Park in Ohio are also notable places where the Ohio River makes part of its journey.

Geological description

It’s the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers found at Point State Park in Pennsylvania that starts the headwaters of the Ohio River. The stream flows northwest through two counties before a bend changes the direction to south-southwest. Then, the Ohio River continues through West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania’s triple-state boarder.

Upstream from Wheeling, West Virginia, the river also creates a border between West Virginia and Ohio. Going through Cincinnati in a southwest and west-northwest past, it bends to a west-southwest course for the remaining part of the journey along the borders of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois before reaching the Mississippi River.

Events in time

Starting in the 1950s, the DuPont chemical company began polluting the river from an overflow pipe that was located at its facility in Parkersburg, VA. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of a fluoride-based chemical used to make Teflon and other products dumped into the water for decades. In 2009 and 2010 it was rated as the most polluted river in the country.

In conclusion

The Ohio River continues to be an essential contribution to industrial processes, including the manufacturing and farming industries in the United States. The Ohio Environmental Council is working on solutions for stopping pollution and protecting wildlife. The primary focus is preserving and improving the overall safety of the water for the future.

All About Murrumbidgee River

Introduction

As the second-longest river in Australia, the Murrumbidgee is found flowing through many Indigenous lands of the region.

The Murrumbidgee River Corridor borders the river on either side as it flows west-northwesterly for 923 miles.

Why is it famous?

Several explorers traveled on and around the Murrumbidgee River dating back as far as the early 1820s. In 1829 a party led by Charles Sturt took a rowboat down the lower part of the waterway before catching the adjoining Murry River into the sea. They turned around and rowed back upstream later describing where the Murry and Murrumbidgee river meet as a dramatic experience because of the powerful currents. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the land around the Murrumbidgee was settled and discovered to be fertile farmland.

What’s nearby?     

The headwater of the Murrumbidgee River originates at the bottom of Peppercorn Hill along the Long Plain of the Snow Mountains 31 miles north of the city of Kiandra. You can find it flowing through several areas picking up tributaries along the 41 miles through the Australian Capital Territory and Canberra. The Tantangara Dam that was completed in 1960 near the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee sends most of the water into Lake Eucumbene.

Geological description

You’ll find the Murrumbidgee River located in the area of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in the Snowy Mountains. Its mouth is at the confluence of the Murray River, and it discharges in three different locations, including Wagga Wagga, Narrandera, and Balranald.

Events in time

When the Murrumbidgee River flooded in 1852, the town of Gundagai that was based along the river was completely swept away. One-third of the town’s population, 89 people, died as a result of the flood. The town later rebuilt at a higher elevation.

The large spring snowmelt and 50% reduction of water flows that occurred after the building of the Tantangara Dam have put the Murrumbidgee River in the news for several decades because of the effects it’s having on the native fish population. Reports by the Murray-Darling Commission from 2008 state that only 13 of the original 22 different species of fish remain and the condition of the river is rated as very poor.

In conclusion

The Murrumbidgee River is an essential part of the ecological, economic, and social components of Australia. With continued loss of water and less flooding occuring, wildlife and trees are being negatively affected. The people of the region are working together diligently to discover the best course of action for keeping the river in its current condition, trying to prevent any further losses.

The Great Lakes: Gateway to American Expansion

Intrepid explorers from every colonizing country in North America pushed ever westward in search of routes into the rest of the wild country awaiting them.

Moving west from what became the state of New York and the Canadian province of Ontario, French explorers were the first to find what became known as the Great Lakes.

This natural treasure played a central role in the European colonization of the United States and Canada and became a dominant part of the physical and cultural heritage of North America.

Just the Facts

Formed and filled as the last North American glacier — the Wisconsin Glacial Stage — melted and receded some 14,000 years ago, the Great Lakes encompasses five individual lakes near the northeastern border of the United States and Canada. From east to west, they are:

Together, these lakes represent the largest body of freshwater on the surface of the planet. In fact, the Great Lakes account for one-fifth of the global surface freshwater and 84% of North America’s. This amounts to roughly 6 quadrillion gallons of freshwater.

The lakes are dotted with over 35,000 islands. Several are small and uninhabitable, while one, Manitoulin, is the largest island in an inland body of water in the world. Lake Superior is easily the deepest, with depths maxing out at 1,333 feet. Lakes Huron, Michigan and Ontario have depths between 750 and 925 feet, while Lake Erie is considerably more shallow at just 210 feet. 

The Great Lakes Basin

These waterways provided transportation, enterprise and food for early peoples, and the possibilities for science, industry and recreation continued to attract people through the years. The basin includes more than 30 million residents in areas in the Canadian province of Ontario and the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, New York and Ohio. The Great Lakes border nearly 7% of American farm production and 25% of Canadian.

Historical and Cultural Significance

As the first gateway to the West, the Great Lakes played an enormous part in the history of the United States. For the indigenous people who called their shores home for centuries, the lakes represented more than bodies of water; they were the essence of life as they knew it. The cultural impact of these lakes and the area’s earliest inhabitants colors every community within the Great Lakes Basin. Each lake has some cultural relevance or historical footnote as well.

Lake Superior was the site of one of the last and most famous shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. On November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a storm with all 29 crew members aboard. Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot recorded a song that memorialized this wreak.

Lake Michigan honors those who lost their lives to shipwrecks on its waters with the Straits of Mackinac Underwater Preserve. Here, divers can explore the 12 sunken ships and pay homage to those who went before them.

The Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812 was fought off its north shore in September 1813. The U.S. navy beat the British to reclaim Detroit.

Lake Huron has long been a popular summer recreational spot, and Lake Ontario has a long history as a center of commerce before railroads took over the landscape.

Today, the Great Lakes are central to the $5 trillion regional economies that they support. Recreation opportunities that include world-renown fishing, hunting and boating help to generate over $52 billion for the area each year.

As well as providing unmistakable beauty and recreational pleasure, these lakes are critical to the economy, culture and environment of the communities within the Great Lakes Basin and beyond.