Top 10 Geologic Wonders Of The World
“The present is the key to the past”. That is one of the most important principles of geology, because geological structures we see today allow us to know the history of the Earth, and under that same premise, to predict its future. The truth is that, whether or not you are a geologist, Earth will never cease to amaze you with its beauty, landscapes and curiosities, and even if you believe you have seen everything, there will always be something new that will surprise you. So, here is a top 10 geologic wonders of the world that you should visit.
1. The Big Blue Hole, Belize
It’s located in the coral islands of Turneffe (Belize), in the Caribbean Sea. It stands on the Lighthouse Reef, about 100 miles from its shores. This underwater cave or cenote, of unusual beauty, shelters a great diversity of species, like sharks and barracudas. It is a hole with almost perfect circle shape, 305 meters in diameter and 123 meters deep. This one stands out for its tonality that contrasts with the turquoise blue of the coral barrier that surrounds it.
The origin of the great blue hole goes back to the glaciation, when the Earth was covered by glaciers and the level of the sea was lower. Then it was just a cave; as the ocean began to rise again, the caves were flooded, and the roof collapsed. It is believed to be the largest phenomenon in the world of its kind. The Great Blue Hole is a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.
2. The seven giants of the Urals, Russia
Man-Pupu-Nyor (“little mountain of the gods”) are rock formations that rise majestically at the north of the Ural Mountains, Russia. With heights ranging from 30 to 45 meters, these seven species of “moais” that nature has shaped for more than 200 million years, form one of the most impressive and magical geological legacies of the planet that you will love to visit.
They are raised on a flat plateau, which the wind has been sculpting over time. Geologists think it is very possible that in the past a mountain was located, but time, rain and erosion profiled with skillful hands of artisan these formations so spectacular. These seven pillars have always been admired by the shamans and sorcerers of the nearby towns.
3. Crystal cave, Mexico
It is located in Chihuahua, Mexico. It was discovered in 2000 at the Naica mine, 300 meters below the surface. The cave has wonderful crystals that were formed thanks to the temperature it has preserved for thousands of years.
Ones of the main attractions are the giant crystals of Selenite (Gypsum) that this cave has. The largest crystal of the cave found to date is 12 m (40 ft.) long, 4 m (13 ft.) in diameter and 55 tonnes in weight. The cave is extremely hot; the temperature reaches 58 °C (136 °F). Without proper protection, a person could only be around ten minutes of continuous exposure to these environmental factors, making it a bit difficult to visit the cave. But don’t get sad! Tourists can explore the cave with a guide and training.
4. Mount Roraima, Brazil/Guyana/Venezuela
Mount Roraima is a spectacular 2810 meter (9000 ft.) high mountain located on the border between Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana, but primarily in Venezuela. It’s a perfect tepui, and the top of the mount is a plateau of 31 km2, surrounded by cliffs of 4000 meters in height, where it’s the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall: The Angel Falls, which plunges 979 meters (3212ft) and it’s considered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Besides, Roraima is one of the oldest geological formations in the world, estimated to be approximately 2 billion years old.
This wonderful place looks like a fairy tale. In fact, it was first described by the British explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, in whose stories the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was based to write in 1912 “The lost world”. Mount Roraima also served as inspiration for the animated film “Up,” created by Pixar and Walt Disney.
5. Giant’s Causeway, Ireland
This is one of Ireland’s most interesting tourist attractions. It is located in County Antrim, on the north coast of Northern Ireland. The area is covered by about 40000 basalt columns from a volcanic eruption that occurred more than 60 million years ago. In other words, these rock structures are formed from ancient volcanic eruption, when lava repeatedly flowed and cooled as it came into contact with the sea.
In some cases, the columns reach 12 meters in height and the accumulation of solidified lava exceeds 28 meters.
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6. Darvaza gas crater, “The door to Hell”, Turkmenistan
The Darvaza gas crater, known as “Door to Hell” is a natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan, that collapsed into an underground cavern in 1971, becoming a natural gas crater.
This crater is a popular tourist attraction. It has 69 meters of diameter, 30 meters of depth and a temperature in its interior of 400 °C. Besides, it has a total area of 5350 m2, the size of an American football field.
It was formed due to an accident in 1971, during a gas prospecting work of soviet geologists. In fact, they discovered an underground cave filled with natural gas. Fearing that the crater would cause the escape of several dangerous natural gases, the team decided to set fire to it. They estimated that it would be extinguished in some days; however, it has burned for four decades. Since then it burns and provides an impressive spectacle every day.
7. The Eye of the Sahara, Mauritania
The Richat Structure, also known as The Eye of the Sahara is a prominent circular feature in the Sahara Desert, Mauritania. It is visible from space and is almost 50 kilometers in diameter. It is famous because it forms a rare eye in the monotonous expanse of the desert.
It was discovered by the French naturalist Theodore Monod. Since the beginning of the investigations, the geologists considered this incredible place as the result of a meteorite impact, due to its extraordinary dimensions and degree of circularity. However, after several studies it has been shown that it is an anticlinal dome that has been eroded over millions of years, and shows us its core. Now days, it’s regarded by geologists as a highly symmetrical and deeply eroded geologic dome because after extensive field studies, no credible evidence has been found for shock metamorphism or any type of deformation indicative of a hypervelocity extraterrestrial impact.
8. Jostedal Glacier, Norway
The Jostedal Glacier is located in Norway, and has the title of being the largest Glacier in Continental Europe with 487 km2.
The highest point of the glacier reaches 2018 meters above sea level, while its lowest point reaches 350 meters. It has a length of little more than 60 kilometers and in some points accumulates a layer of snow of more than 600 meters of thickness.
However, in 2012 the glacier arm Briksdalsbreen lost 50 meters of ice. And more recent studies indicate that Briksdalsbreen actually retreated 146 meters in 2006, and it could be in danger of breaking away from the upper icefield. That’s why Ice climbing has now been terminated in this place.
9. Pamukkale, Turkey
Pamukkale (meaning “Cotton castle” in Turkish) is a famous tourist attraction located in Denizli Province, in southwestern Turkey.
Pamukkale shows an amazing arrange of natural travertine deposits. Travertine is a type of limestone that is deposited by hot springs as carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. This natural phenomenon produces thick white layers of limestone and travertine that fall in the form of waterfalls on the side of the mountain, which gives the sensation of being before a frozen cataract.
It has total 2700 m in length and 160 m in height, and it has been declared a World Heritage site since 1988.
10. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA
It’s and eroded slot canyon in Arizona, USA. It is one of the most visited and photographed slot canyons in the world, and it reaches 40 meters in height in some points.
Located within the Navajo Indian Reservation, it’s called “Tse ‘bighanilini“, meaning “the place where water runs through the rocks”. That’s because for thousands of years the water has sculpted amazing shapes in this wonderful Canyon; when it rains, rainwater erodes the sandstone, creating a mixture of water and sand perfect to smooth the walls on either side of the canyon.
But rain is also the main reason why this site can only be visited with a guide, because torrential rains in the region can cause total flooding of the canyon in a few minutes.