Hexagonal stone columns? Rainbow-coloured mountains? A forest of bent trees? Mother Nature works in mysterious ways and often produces more dazzling sights than man. These gorgeous patterns around the world are just some of her creations!
Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
This dazzling 72-feet high cave on Staffa Island, in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, is known for its towering hexagonal basalt columns. You might assume the columns are man-made, but they’re entirely natural, formed millions of years ago by cooling, solidifying lava and wave erosion.
Although already known to the Celtic people, it was Joseph Banks who ‘discovered’ this sea cave in 1772. He named it after Fionn Mac Cumhaill, a giant who supposedly built the bridge connecting Fingal’s Cave to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.
San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds, U.S.
The Salt Ponds of San Francisco are significant in terms of commercial salt production, but they are captivating in their own right for their brightly coloured, fractal-like patterns.
Despite what you may think, the colours are completely natural and are caused by the various microorganisms that dwell in the ponds and react to the levels of salinity.
Rainbow Mountains, China
Head to the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in northern China, and you’ll be treated to this gorgeous landscape known as the Rainbow Mountains.
Formed over 24 million years ago by winds, rain and layers of sandstone and other minerals (like iron), they now represent one of the most brilliant natural formations in China.
Frozen Bubble Lake, Canada
Say hello to Abraham Lake in Alberta, Canada. Although it’s a man-made lake, built in 1972 on the North Saskatchewan River, its natural phenomenon of frozen bubbles beneath the surface make this place truly captivating.
The bubbles are caused by stacks of methane gas, which are released from plants and other organic matter beneath the water, and which freeze before they reach the surface.
Eaglehawk Neck Tessellated Pavement, Australia
It might look like a series of constructed pools, but the Tessellated Pavement of Tasmania’s Tasman Peninsula is actually entirely natural.
Resembling a mosaic or tiled floor, the patterning is created by salt crystals and sand, which erode the rock in different ways during high and low tides. This leaves what appear to be shallow, pool-like basins at one end, and protruding, stone blocks at the other.
Crooked Forest, Poland
No, it’s not a hyperbole! Found near Gryfino in northwest Poland, the Crooked Forest indeed contains a cluster of oddly crooked pine trees. The trees were planted somewhere in the late 1920s to early 1930s, but nobody knows why they’re so bent.
Some believe that humans did this to make the wood more suitable for things like boat building, while others say the mutations are more likely due to snow and storms or even an anomaly in gravitation.
Pamukkale means ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish and these terraced formations are one of the most popular destinations in the country. Made from a sedimentary rock known as travertine, the pools are created as mineral water cascades over the cliff, leaving calcium carbonate deposits behind that turn into the stepped rock.
Travellers come here to see the terraces and bathe in the hot springs, as well as explore the ruins of what was once the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis.