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 Nanga Parbat

Locals call Nanga Parbat by the name, Diamer, and this is one of the highest mountains in the world.

Nanga Parbat comes from Sanskrit meaning “Naked Mountain,” while Diamer is the Tibetan name that means “huge mountain.”

Why Is It Famous?

Nanga Parbat’s main claim to fame is its status as the ninth highest mountain in the world. It sits 8,126 meters (26,660 feet) above sea level. This mountain also has a reputation for being very challenging to climb, even to the point where it is called “Killer Mountain.”  Nanga Parbat is also famous for being one of the world’s most prominent peaks, and it is one of the two peaks in the world that is both on that list and that of the highest mountains.  

What’s Nearby?

Nanga Parbat serves as the Himalayas’ western anchor. It sits in Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan region, specifically the Diamer District. The Indus River is just to the north, while the Karakoram range’s western end is further north.

Geological Description

Nanga Parbat has a very high level of vertical relief over the area’s terrain in every direction. The southern Rupal Face sits 4,600 meters higher than its base, earning it the designation of the highest mountain face. The northern Rakhiot Flank sits 7,000 meters high, rising from the valley of the Indus River. This rise is over 25 kilometers, making it among the quickest gains in elevation in the world.

The mountain features a long ridge that trends southwest-northeast and is the core of the geological structure. This ridge is made of rock and ice. There are three faces, Rupal, Rakhiot, and Diamir. Mazeno Wall, the southwestern part of the mountain’s main ridge, has its own subsidiary peaks.

Events in Time

The nickname, “Killer Mountain,” came to Nanga Parbat because of the large number of mountaineering deaths during the early and mid-20th century.

In Conclusion

Nanga Parbat is among the highest mountains in the world as well as one of the most prominent with incredibly sharp rises.

Zhangye Danxia, China

Introduction

The Zhangye Danxia, China is known for its gorgeous rainbow mountains, offering the perfect backdrop for photos.

Why Is It Famous?

The Zhangye Danxia is famous for its gorgeous and unique appearance. To the casual observer, it almost appears to be mountains painted various colors.

What’s Nearby?

The landforms are within the Gansu Province of China. Visit Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park in the Qilian Mountains.

Geological Description

This unique formation of land is the result of red sandstone deposited in strips millions of years ago. The area that most visitors are most interested in spans around 50 square kilometers. As you explore the landmark, you will notice red cliffs standing several hundred meters tall, as well as ridges with weathered strata in multiple colors. The formations can be sharp or smooth.

The colorful layers come from the geological history of the area, starting when it was an ocean 540 million years ago. Tectonic plates collided and caused the land to fold into mountains. Rivers formed within this area, depositing the red sandstone in the process. Then, the ground sank to create a basin and mudstone got set on top. The layers continued in different areas, with the varying colors caused by varying quantities of ferrous salt. The area was lifted higher above sea level as the Himalayas moved, with rivers forming and creating gorges.

As you admire the Zhangye Danxia, remember that each layer is the result of thousands of years of geological formation.

Events in Time

Geologists have studied the area’s unique landforms for years, working to understand how it formed. Various media outlets in China declared the Zhangye Danxia National Park among the country’s most beautiful landforms in 2005 and 2009.

In Conclusion

Zhangye Danxia in China offers a truly unique landform with colorful stripes on mountains, formed over millions of years due to the area’s unique history. Each stripe represents a different deposit, with a unique combination of colors, shapes, textures, and patterns.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Introduction

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam features numerous limestone pillars, caves, and arches, thanks to changes to the sea and erosion over the years.

Legend says that dragons built these rocks and islands as a way to keep out invaders. In fact, the name “Ha Long” translates to “descending dragon.”

Why Is It Famous?

The unique appearance of Ha Long Bay and its islands has led to its fame. The formations seem like something out of a movie, instead of something created by nature. From a geological perspective, the existence of the bay’s karst formations on the water is unique, attracting a great deal of attention.

What’s Nearby?

Ha Long Bay is in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh Province. The area includes more than 1,600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabited, offering preservation. The closest city is Hanoi, which is 103 miles away.

Geological Description

Ha Long Bay includes an unusual karst landscape, something unique as most karst formations occur on land instead of water. You will find 1,960 to 2,000 limestone islets and islands across the over 1,500 square kilometers of space in the bay.

The bay’s limestone is the result of 500 million years of formation throughout a range of environments. These include changes to the sea level and the geological effects those variations bring. The main karst formation of the bay is the result of 20 million years.

Like the areas next to it, Ha Long Bay has Sino-Vietnamese composite terrain that began forming during the pre-Cambrian time. This included the separation of terrigenous, cherty-carbonate, and volcanogenic sediments in the Phanerozoic period.

Events in Time

The Bay has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. Experts have conducted historical research surveys and determined prehistoric people lived in Ha Long Bay tens of thousands of years in the past.

In Conclusion

Geologists find the unique karst landscape of Ha Long Bay appealing as this is unlike most environments where you can find karst. The landscape is the result of millions of years of formation and erosion due to the presence of the sea.