It’s true that nature can be a fascinating, scary and awe-inspiring thing. Sometimes, things happen in our world that we just can’t explain. We simply have to marvel at them. Phenomena like a body of water that kills animals and then mummifies them, and a storm that goes on forever, are just some of the things that nature does that we just don’t have an explanation for. Of course, scientists have tried to come up with reasons and theories as to why these things occur, but even with all their knowledge, they’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to truly knowing why some systems in nature just don’t go “as planned.”
If you enjoy traveling to various locations to see the plants, animals and natural landmarks that make a country or city stand out, chances are you’ve heard of some of these phenomena. Once you read about some of these natural wonders, you may get the urge to plan a trip so you can see these extraordinary sites for yourself. It’s likely to be an experience you won’t forget. Here are 12 of the most shocking natural phenomenons the Earth as ever known.
12. Underwater Crop Circles
Underwater crop circles were discovered in 1995, off the coast of the southern region of Japan. These circles have been a mystery for years, and scientists studied them intensely to figure out where they were coming from. It wasn’t until 2011 that it was discovered that puffer fish actually created crop circles on the floor of the ocean. A male puffer fish was actually seen creating the circles, and the mystery was solved. Upon further study, it has been concluded that male puffer fish make the crop circles to woo the female puffer fish. The circles are seven feet in diameter, and have also been called “mystery circles.” Usually, a group of male fish (between four and eight) work together to make the crop circles.
11. Great Blue Hole
Belize is the home of the Great Blue Hole, and while it’s a tourist attraction for many, not many people know how the hole was formed. Years ago when the sea levels were significantly lower, the Great Blue Hole was actually an inland cave. Once the sea levels started to rise, the cave became flooded with water. The Great Blue Hole is now around 400 feet deep and 1000 feet across. Scuba divers love to visit this location to swim in the clear water and take in all the marine life, which includes tropical fish and animals like nurse sharks and several varieties of reef sharks.
10. Catatumbo Lightning
Catatumbo Lightning is often called “the everlasting storm”. It’s a phenomenon of the atmosphere found at the mouth of the Catatumbo River, in Venezuela. It originates from a large group of storm clouds at a height of more than three miles. For a few months, from January to April of 2010, the lightning stopped due to a drought in the area, and this temporarily led to a fear that the everlasting storm would stop. The “storm” lasts for 10 hours a day, 160 days out of the year. Catatumbo lightning also occurs in Colombia, and is the largest generator of trophospheric ozone in the world.
9. Great Prismatic Spring
If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone National Park, you may have seen the Great Prismatic Spring. It’s the United States’ largest hot spring, and the third largest hot spring in the world. The spring is particularly eye-catching because of its bright colors. The hues are caused by colored bacteria, which live in the water and around its edges. The water is rich in minerals, and when it comes in contact with the bacteria, vivid colors emerge. The Great Prismatic Spring is about 200 by 300 feet and around 160 feet deep. Every minute, the spring discharges around 560 gallons of water that is about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Moeraki Boulders
The Moeraki Boulders are large boulders, shaped like spheres. The phenomena are located along Koekohe Beach in New Zealand. Maori legend has it that the boulders are actually eel basket remains. Some also say that the boulders are the remains of kumara and calabashes from a large canoe called Arai-te-uru. However, scientific research has concluded that the Moeraki boulders are a combination of fine silt, mud and clay. These elements have been cemented by calcite and date as far back as the Paleocene period, which was over 50 million years ago. The boulders are often used in tourist advertisements for New Zealand to attract vacationers to the area.
7. Basalt Columns
Basalt is a type of volcanic rock that is formed when basaltic lava is cooled rapidly. These formations take on a variety of shapes, but one of the most visually appealing is the basalt column. Millions of years ago, basalt columns were only plateaus. However, over time, the fracture networks started to appear in the plateaus, and this has created some of the most fascinating rock formations in the world. The solid columns are rare to find, but are sometimes used to make decorative items like birdbaths and benches. They are created in a variety of colors, including deep shades of gray and lighter hues of tan or orange.
6. Danxia Landforms
Danxia landforms are found in many parts of southwest, southeast and northwest China. These landforms are actually a special type of geomorphologic landscape that features a variety of red hues. Danxia landforms are also formed in deep shades of orange. These natural beauties are masses of cretaceous sandstone and limestone. The stones have been eroded over time by wind, rain and sun over a period of millions of years. Danxia also creates a number of breathtaking structures such as ravines and columns. The rock formations also create canyons and pillars, and are beautiful attractions for people who are visiting China.
5. Sardine Run
The Sardine Run is a pretty impressive mass migration of fish. Billions of sardines migrate between the months of May and July, nearly every year. The fish travel north, along South Africa’s east coast. Of course, this means that predators of sardines are scrambling to get a filling meal or two during the Sardine Run. Even though this migration involves an astounding number of fish, scientists don’t know much more about the Sardine Run. One thing that scientists do know is that in the last 23 years, there have only been three instances in which the sardines didn’t attempt the migration.
4. Ant Mill
For the most part, ants get around by using their eyes. However, there are some ants that are totally blind, and they depend on a special pheromone scent to find their way around. The trail of pheromones is left by other ants, and if the ants loses its way, it can march in circles for extended periods of time, before dying of exhaustion. This phenomenon is called the ant mill, and allows ants to walk in circles of more than 1,000 feet in diameter. This is a prime example of how creatures help each other when a member of the pack has a disability or impairment.
3. Living Rock
Living rocks are scientifically known as Pyura chilensis. It’s actually a marine animal that doesn’t have vertebrae, and it lives along the coasts of Peru and Chile. The “living rock” actually looks like a group of internal organs that are stuffed inside of a rock. The animal is unable to move on its own, and it feeds on microorganisms in seawater. The living rock is able to filter its food out of the seawater. Scientists don’t know why, but the living rock has about 10 million times more vanadium (a chemical element that is very rare) than what is found in the water.
2. Lenticular Clouds
Lenticular clouds originated in the troposphere, and are some of the most unusual and rarest forms of clouds. When moist air travels up an “obstacle” like a mountain, the air collects at the top of the structure to form a cloud that is shaped like a lens. Due to the unique shape of these clouds, they are often confused for UFOs. Lenticular clouds are also seen in a number of colors. When they are in purple and orange, they are particularly striking against the sky and mountains. The clouds are often perpendicular to the direction of the wind, which makes them even more noticeable.
1. Mummifying Lake
The Mummifying Lake is located in the northern region of Tanzania, and is officially known as Lake Natron. The lake is made of soda and salt, and is well known its high salt concentrations and very hot temperatures. The lake can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the animals that live around the lake have managed to adapt to the lake’s harsh climate. However, most of the animals that venture toward Lake Natron never make it out. When the creatures get into the water, they are mummified by the soda and salt in the lake. This is both fascinating and scary.