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Geological Formations

Lena Pillars

Lena Pillars

Lena Pillars, Russia, the Lena River.

Lena Pillars (Russian: Ленские столбы [Lenskiye Stolby]) is the name given to a natural rock formation along the banks of the Lena River in far eastern Siberia. The pillars are 150 to 300 metres high, and were formed 80 million years ago from Cambrian era sea-basin. This unique ecological and tourism location was submitted as a World Heritage site in 2006. Lena Pillars National Park lies less than a day’s boat ride upriver (south) from the city of Yakutsk, the autonomous capital of the Sakha Republic.

Grímsvötn Volcano, south-east Iceland

Grimsvotn Volcano Eruption

Grímsvötn volcano, the subglacial dweller in Iceland’s Vatnajökull.

Vatnajökull ice cap, the home of the Grímsvötn volcano, covers around 8300 km2 (8%) of the landmass of Iceland. As well as Grímsvötn, the ice cap covers at least six other subglacial volcanoes, including Öræfajökull. Each of the volcanoes is part of a volcanic fissure system traversing the whole area.

Deep Lake

Deep lake

Ashley Lake is a deep water lake in northwestern Montana, USA.

The water is so transparent that it seems that this is a quite shallow lake. In fact, it is very deep down to 300 feet. Springs and various creeks feed the lake which has crystal clear water where one can see to 30 or 40 feet.

Horsetail Fall, Yosemite, California

Glowing Horsetail Fall in Yosemite

Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park.

Pictured from a position along the Merced River off Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley just before sunset as it glows. The phenomenon of this vista only occurs for only few days in February each year when several weather and climatic conditions are just right. [Photograph: Phil Hawkins/Reuters].

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is a volcano east of Naples.

It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, but is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. (See also a weird cloud over Mount Etna in Sicily.)

Mount Roraima in South America

Mount Roraima

Mount Roraima at the triple border point between Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana in South America.

It was first described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, Mount Roraima’s 31 square kilometre summit area consists on all sides of cliffs rising 400 metres. Nearby, the Venezuela’s Canaima National Park offers weekend travellers time for leisure activities in this tranquil area with blue skies. Visitors can have a birds eye view from above and get an aerial perspective of the rock formations. The Park, a World Heritage Site is home to Angel Falls (Salto Ángel), the world’s highest waterfall, and to the unique flat top mesas known as Tepuis. [Photograph: Alamy]

Tundra Valley in Kamchatka

Tundra Valley in Kamchatka

Tundra valley between the Tolbachik and Kamen volcanoes.

In the background is a small crater separated by a cloud line from the huge base of Kamen Volcano, Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia.

Rainbow World

Black Rock Desert

Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA.

The Black Rock Playa is one of the largest, flattest, surfaces on Earth, covering approximately 200 square miles. Standing on the playa taking in the 360° view is an experience you won’t forget. The continuous Fly Geyser of Fly Ranch is on private land and began in 1916 when water well drilling accidentally penetrated a geothermal source. [Photograph: Jeff Foott]

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake in the crater of an extinct volcano, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand.

Tongariro is the oldest national park in New Zealand, located in the central North Island. It has been acknowledged by UNESCO as one of the 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites.

Now, that’s a shower!

A Shower

.The 198-foot Palouse Falls on the Palouse River in Washington state, USA.

Palouse Falls State Park is a 105-acre camping park with a unique geology and history. The park offers a dramatic view of one of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls. Palouse Falls drops with its highest volumes of water flow in spring and early summer.

Dallol, Ethiopia


Dallol, a volcanic crater in Ethiopia.

It has geothermal brine hot springs, salt terraces, and a salt lake. The Afar Region of Africa, named after the people who call it home, encompasses Djibouti, Eritrea, and the northeast corner of Ethiopia. A notable trait of the Afar Triangle is the Danakil Depression, the lowest point in Africa. The territory is one of the hottest on the planet, and features everything from earthquakes and volcanoes to geysers and salt canyons. During the early 1960s, an American mining company conducted a geological
survey of the Danakil. It was in Dallol the team measured the record average temperature of 35°C. The daily high will frequently eclipse 46°C. It is also home to Dallol, a remote mining camp accessible by camel. The now-abandoned town of Dallol was once a busy site, mining potash, sylvite, and salt during various times throughout its history. [Photograph: Dr. Richard Roscoe/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis]

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. [Photograph: Xuan Che/Getty Images]

Zhangye Danxia Landform

Zhangye Danxia

View of colourful rock formations at the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu Province, China.

Danxia landform

This geological phenomenon can be observed in several places in China.

The unusual colours of the rocks are the result of red sandstone and mineral deposits being laid down over 24 million years. [Photograph: Xin Ran/Corbis]

China Danxia is the name given in China to landscapes developed on continental red terrigenous sedimentary beds1 influenced by endogenous2 forces (including uplift) and exogenous3 forces (including weathering and erosion). The site comprises six areas found in the sub-tropical zone of south-west China. They are characterized by spectacular red cliffs and a range of erosional landforms, including dramatic natural pillars, towers, ravines, valleys and waterfalls. These rugged landscapes have helped to conserve sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen forests, and host many species of flora and fauna, about 400 of which are considered rare or threatened.

If, like me, you’ve never met these words before, here’s some help from my dictionary:

  1. terrigenous sedimentary beds – sediment derived from the erosion of land deposited either on land or in the sea
  2. endogenous – increasing by internal growth, formed within, (of depression) with no external cause
  3. exogenous – growing by successive additions to the outside, developing externally, having an external origin

The Wave

The Wave

‘The Wave’, Coyote Buttes.

It is a 190 million year old Jurassic-age sandstone rock formation in Arizona, a part of the Paria Canyon–Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness area. [Photograph: Blaine Harrington III/Corbis]

The Door to Hell

The Door to Hell

The Door to Hell in Turkmenistan.

Soviet geologists were drilling at the site in 1971 and tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. But the ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a hole with a diameter of 70 metres. Fearing that the hole would lead to the release of poisonous gases, the team decided to burn it off. It was hoped that the fire would use all the fuel within days, but the gas is still burning today.

Marble Caves

Marble Caves

The marble caves along the shoreline of Lago Carrera, Patagonia, Chile.

The caves were formed by wave action, and water erosion on the marble. The lake straddles the border between Chile and Argentina. [Photograph: George Lepp/Corbis]