7 natural phenomena that’ll take your breath away

Mysterious Earth | | August 9, 2010 at 12:48 am




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We live in a world filled with so much wonder that it never ceases to amaze. Louis Armstrong probably summed it up best in his voice dripping with caramel-ly goodness.

“I see skies of blue and clouds of white

The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night

And I think to myself what a wonderful world.”

Pick a country, any country, and chances are you will find that it is has something of beauty and allure to offer when it comes to beautiful phenomena. Sure, we can make a sweeping statement and say that this is the kind of thing you should fill a lifetime with, but really nothing could be truer.

Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis has to be the work of a cosmic playwright at work, the sky his amphitheater and if you’re lucky enough to be there rest assured you’ll have front row seats. The phenomena is famed as one of the most breathtaking in all of nature and the blanket of lights will wrap the sky in its beauty, a dazzle of neon colors that truly lives up to term awe-inspiring. The pastel hues are a direct result of a large amount of solar radiation mingling and reacting to nitrogen and oxygen found within the Earth’s atmosphere and while it can be observed all over the world, it is most commonly seen in and around the two poles of  the earth. In the Antarctic these sky lights are called the Aurora Australialis, or southern lights, but whatever you call it this light installation of the gods is a feast for the eyes.

Aurora Borealis

Red Tides

Red tide are a natural phenomena that happens when microorganisms gather in the waters of coastal areas and cause a brown, red or even purple discoloration in the water. It is caused by what is known as ‘algal blooms’, a rapid reproduction of myriad toxic, single-celled organisms. Note our use of the word toxic here. During the most intense algal blooms, dangerously high levels of toxins are released into the surrounding waters and as many as millions of fishes have been known to die during a red tide. At times these toxins even lay dormant within shellfish and if consumed by humans, these shellfish can then cause paralytic attacks or even death in more extreme cases. Now that we have warned you sufficiently of the dangers it poses to people, allow us to also point out that were it not for the dangers it poses it would almost certainly be noted solely for its beauty. Perhaps these algae are the Mata Hari’s of the algal universe; beautiful and exotic, yet dangerous in the extreme. You have been forewarned.

Red Tides

Sakura

If a trip to Japan is on the cards, you would do well to take our advice and delay it until the Sakura is in bloom. To see the harshness of Japan’s concrete jungle offset by the beauty of the flower in bloom is a juxtaposition of two opposing forces playing off of one another. When you think of beautiful flowery locales, perhaps the Tulips of Netherlands come to mind but comparing this to the blooming of Tulips is like comparing Apples and Oranges. The Dutch have embraced the Tulip as their national flower, but it is not so with the Sakura and Japan. Even so, the Japanese have chosen to embrace it as part of their way of life and give it unofficial status as a symbol of theirs. The Sakura is indigenous to Japan, Korea, China and even Taiwan but no other country has chosen to idolize this flower as much as the Japanese have in their ¥ 100 coins, names and even cuisines. And then there’s the songs, crockery and kimono designs so you can safely say the Japanese love the Sakura to the ends of the Earth.

Sakura

Sort Sol

If watching flowers bloom in Japan is not your kind of scene, how about heading over to Europe instead? We have Denmark in mind for an event with a name that is much manlier. ‘Sort Sol’, which when translated means ‘Black Sun’ in Danish, is the name given to an enormous flock of birds that fly in a very close spherical formation. These birds resemble a moving black ball and constantly expand and contract all out of free will and these European Starlings can move in such large numbers that they can literally black out the sun, ergo the name’s origins. They may travel in numbers as “small” as hundreds of thousands or up to millions and they make for an ornithological event that can be seen al around Denmark and mainly around Tønder Marsh in southern Jutland. Taking off from their feeding places at sunset, the birds take wing before tucking in for the night. Go on, you know the voyeur in you likes to watch the birds.

Sort Sol

Cappuccino Coast

Coffee lovers could be forgiven for believing that they had ingested a bit more caffeine than normal as they bore witness to what seemed like a giant cup of cappuccino on the beaches of New South Wales in August 2007. But it was no optical illusion that greeted their eyes. The giant frothy foam bed that was spread before them was an entirely natural phenomenon called “sea foam” although locals referred it to by the catchier name of Cappuccino Coast (which we like a lot). Caused by the churning of the water by tides and currents laden with dead plankton and other organic material, the result is a set of bubbles that have a tendency to stick together and as these adhesive bubbles get closer to shore, the waves push them upward and outwards and they can then be seen in all of their foamy glory. To some it looks as if someone has treated a beach with a giant blender laden with milk and coffee, to others it resembles a bubble bath but you’d be lucky to catch it as it happens very rarely. The last occurrence prior to 2007 was over three decades ago. No worries, you can always bide the time with a good latte, perhaps one with extra froth to ready you as you wait. This could take a while.

Cappuccino Coast

Penitentes

Named so because of their resemblance to a group of hooded monks, Penitentes are huge ice spikes found in the Ande that are formed by the suns rays penetrating certain parts of the ice deeper than others, causing peaks in between the dimples. In essence it is a snow formation but a very unique one that are really blades of hardened snow reaching skywards and many grow as tall, some taller, than most people you know. It’s safe to say that skiing isn’t a popular sport here and for good reasons. One wrong move and you’ll end up impaled by one of these natural skewers, a shish kebab in the Andes and no one wants that. Who would have thought that something named after a bunch of hooded monks could be this treacherous?

Penitentes

Cave of the Crystals

If you’ve ever seen any of the Superman films or read Jules Vernes’ ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’, this will seem like something that has leapt out of those pages and straight into our universe. But this is no film set or ruse, it is the Cueva de los Cristales found in Mexico and not even a 100 people have ever been inside. Those that have made the trek have had to tolerate temperatures approaching 50 °C and humidity levels of approximately 100%. Even if you grab a respirator, a full body suit and ice packets you are not going to be able to stay down here more than 20 minutes before the environment starts to get to you. It’s the closest you might get to an other-worldly experience and it is ironic that a desert bearing the name Chihuahua houses a subterranean mine so immense in size and magnificence. Some of the giant crystals housed below the surface weigh as much as 55 tonnes, protected by hydrothermal fluids rich in minerals. This is proof if ever we needed any that our planet works in strange and unimaginable ways and if we’re in the right place at the right time we could be witness to a bit of magic beyond a scale of our own comprehension.

Cave of the Crystals

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1 Comment

  1. Christine says:

    unimaginable….great info thanks
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Paris =-.

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