Mother Nature does some truly incredible things with the natural world around us! Whether your travels take you to Argentina, China or simply to our very own Northern Territory, here are 8 geological wonders that will have you marvelling:
1. Fairy Chimneys – Cappadocia, Turkey
The Cappadocia landscape is unlike any other place on Earth and one of the biggest highlights here are the fairy chimneys! These elegant sandstone structures with basalt caps have been formed by years of volcanic activity and erosion. Funnily enough, in older times, villagers lived inside the chimneys, turning them into cave homes and even churches and monasteries. Today, you’ll also find hotels and lodges inside the chimneys, meaning you can turn your Turkish holiday into a fairy tale!
2. Valley of the Moon – San Juan Province, Argentina
Ischigualasto National Park, otherwise known as the Valley of the Moon, is located in northern Argentina and is famous for its stunning array of dinosaur fossils (yep, for some reason, many of them ended up here). Once a volcanically active floodplain, today the province consists of hundreds of sedimentary rock formations that have been eroded by wind and water, the result being a moon-like plain. Houston, we have a landscape!
3. Mount Erebus Ice Towers – Ross Island, Antarctica
Mount Erebus is one of only 5 volcanoes on Earth that are constantly erupting, and one of its many spectacular geo features are its impressive ice towers. This huge mountain is surrounded by snow and ice, and as lava-generated heat escapes through the vents and cracks, it freezes upon contact with the air, forming steam-spilling ice towers that can reach up to 18 metres tall.
4. Devil’s Marbles – Northern Territory, Australia
These large granite boulders scattered across a desert valley 400km north of Alice Springs are commonly known to both Aussies and tourists as the Devil’s Marbles. Named Karlu Karlu by Indigenous Australians, these striking formations range from 50 centimetres to 6 metres in diameter and like many other sights in the NT, they often appear to change colour during sunrise and sunset. A definite must-see sight for any traveller down under or any local who hasn’t yet been!
5. Bryce Canyon – Utah, USA
Bryce Canyon National Park is made up of a series of natural rock amphitheatres, each of which is home to hundreds of sedimentary rock formations known as “hoodoos.” Formed over thousands of years by river and frost erosion, the red, white and orange coloured hoodoos are a spectacular sight, especially when viewed from the 9,000-foot rim of the highest theatre!
6. Great Blue Hole – Lighthouse Reef, Belize
Is this the world’s most beautiful sinkhole? Formed by glaciation over a period of more than 150,000 years, the Great Blue Hole is part of the Belize Barrier Reef System and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located 70 km from the Belize mainland, this strange natural wonder measures 300 metres across and 124 metres deep, making it one of the most sought-after scuba diving spots in the world.
7. Cave of the Crystals – Chihuahua, Mexico
The Cave of the Crystals sounds like something out of a fantasy story, but it’s actually part of the Naica mine complex in Mexico. These giant selenite crystals (the largest in the world) have formed over 500,000 years and scientists believe that the stifling heat and humidity of the cave create the perfect conditions for these giant gems grow. If you’re keen to catch this amazing geo sight, however, you’ll need to partake in an official scientific tour.
8. Eye of the Sahara – Mauritania, Africa
The Eye of the Sahara (also known as the “Eye of Africa” or more officially, the “Richat Structure”) is a huge, eroded geological dome in which rock layers form astonishingly perfect concentric rings. Measuring over 40 kilometres in diameter, this massive blue eye can be seen from space and is surrounded by vast desert plains. How to best see this geo wonder? From the air! Hot air balloon tours from the city of Atar are a must if you’re in the region.