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TEN MORE STRANGE PLACES

We live on one small planet floating amongst trillions of stars and yet it still has countless barely known places that inspire our souls and intrigue our minds. This is Aquiziam's second collection of very strange and wonderful places that our very own Earth has to offer.

 

 

1. EAGLEHAWK NECK - TASMANIA

Located near the southern end of Tasmania, Eaglehawk Neck is a thin stretch of land which links two Islands and is remarkable for two reasons.  It is the World’s finest (surface-level) example of a Tessellated Pavement and is also credited as the place where the notorious “Dog Line” was first invented.  The indented slab formation is a geological feature caused by the erosion of fractures in the rock. The same area was also once a crossing place for escaped criminals that had been deported from Britain to Tasmania.  To stop escaped convicts crossing this 200 metre wide strip of land the local military commander deployed nine ferocious dogs – each chained so that that they could nearly reach each other but couldn’t actually fight.  Convicts that tried to cross the neck would find himself within range of two of these half-starved monsters. Only three people ever made it past the dogs.

 

The tessellated pavement of Eaglehawk Neck

The tessellated pavement of Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania. Strangely ... created by nature and not by man. The dogs of the infamous "Dog-line" were described as the most ugly and evil-tempered found anywhere in the world. This Image is accredited to "Noodle Snacks". (Sorry ... but that's what they wanted.)

 

 

The Polar Lights of Bear Lake

The Polar Lights of Bear Lake.This is a real picture taken near Eielson Air Force Base. Another Finnish belief from ancient times was that the lights were caused by the “Fire Fox” or “Revontulet” sweeping its tail through the snow. (See extra footnotes 1*) Accredited to Senior Airman Joshua Strang of the USAF

 

2. BEAR LAKE AURORA - ALASKA

You will find Bear Lake in the borough of Fairbanks North Star in the American state of Alaska.  While the Lake itself is beautiful it is also the place from where a person can often see the incredible celestial display known as the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis. Literally translated the name means - Dawn Winds.

This phenomenon has been recorded for thousands of years (Pliny).  Legend is that the lights were caused by Aurora - the Roman Goddess of the Dawn - who flew across the night sky to foretell the rising of the Sun.  Many legends refer to the dance of the lights and Vikings are said to have believed that they were Valkyrie taking the souls of dead warriors to Valhalla.  Scientists believe that they are really caused by solar winds as they collide with the magnet field that encompasses the Earth.

 

 

3. CHAMPAGNE POOL - ROTORUA

Part of the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal complex located near Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand, Champagne Pool is one of the most striking natural wonders.  The brilliant orange ledge is actually formed from arsenic deposits and the gasses that rise and sparkle like champagne are carbon dioxide released from the water vents.  Translated from the Maori language, Wai-O-Tapu means “Sacred or Colourful Waters”.  The entire region of Rotorua is intensely active and Champagne Pool is just one of the hundreds of strange geological features that have been formed by the action of water, steam and subterranean volcanic energy. Translated, Rotorua means The Second Great Lake of Kahumatamomoe who was the uncle of the Maori lord Inhenga who discovered the lands.

 

Champagne Pool in the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal reserve

Champagne Pool in the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal reserve located near to Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand. This remarkable image is accredited to Christian Mehlführer of Vienna - Austria.

 

 

The Badlands Guardian - Indian Head Google Earth

From the ground the Badlands Guardian appears unremarkable and is merely a collection of small grass covered ridges and valleys but from the air its uncanny resemblance to a either a Native American Medicine Man or an Egyptian Pharaoh has caused much speculation and debate with each theory wilder than the one before. The discovery is credited to Lynn Hickox of Saskatchewan Province.

 

4. BADLANDS GUARDIAN - CANADA

This is yet another strange geological feature discovered by users of Google Earth.  Often described as a Native American wearing a traditional headdress it has caused controversy since its discovery due to what appears to be an audio plug in its ear. Located near the town of Medicine Hat and the village of Walsh in Southern Alberta, Canada it is known as the Badlands Guardian.  Although the formation is approximately 70 million years old the earphone is a new addition and is reputed to be either a natural gas or oil well.  The actual location was visited in 2006 by TV News Watch Reporter Dale Hunter who interviewed local residents who, up until that time were unaware of its existence.   It’s probably just a strange geological feature caused by erosion but who knows for sure. A competition was held to name the face and Cypress County Council selected “Badlands Guardian”.

 

 

5. THE WHITE DESERT - EGYPT

At one time in pre-history this part of the Sahara Desert was deep underwater and deposits of chalk built up over the millennia.  Today, this region near the oasis of Farafra, is above sea level and the wind has eroded the ancient lime and chalk deposits to create a bizarre and beautiful landscape in a truly White Desert. (Sahara el Beyda)  The actual region is 45 kilometers north of Farafra and has become a popular tourist destination that is also close to the Black Desert and the Crystal Mountain.  After years of petitioning by leading figures in the world of conservation and archaeology it has now been identified as a protected natural reserve but it appears that this has barely limited the ecological damage that careless tourists are causing to the area. Like so many natural wonders that exist for us to see it may be that all our children will have is the digital images our cameras take today.

 

The Mushroom Rock of the Egyptian White Desert

The Mushroom Rock of the Egyptian White Desert is considered to be one of the finest examples low-level wind erosion in the world. Still, many irresponsible tourists light fires against these ancient rocks causing them to fracture and at certain times of the year after key religious festivals the area is littered with refuse.  This wonderful image is accredited to Hathor 13 of Wiki Commons.

 

 

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni is almost entirely lacking in visible wildlife - either flora or fauna. While there is an abundance of water it is undrinkable and in geological terms it is an also a desert. However, during the wet season the lake becomes home to the pink flamingo which feed on the short-lived pink algae. This remarkable image is accredited to Luca Galuzzi (2007) - a truly extraordinary photographer from Italy.

 

6. SALAR DE UYUNI - BOLIVIA

At 4,085 square miles in size Salar de Uyuni is the biggest “salt flat” in the world.  What is even more remarkable is that it is over 3,500 metres above sea level and is the world’s most important future source of Lithium containing as much as 70% of all known reserves.  It is also incredibly flat and people have been known to experience a form of vertigo and visual disorientation when looking across this vast and desolate vista.  It covers a lake said to be up to twenty metres deep and was once part of a vast lake some 40,000 years ago before the effects of a series of Ice ages changed the topography. The Aymara, the indigenous people of the Western Andes have a legend that the Salar (Salt Flat) was created when the Giantess Tunupa and her baby were abandoned and cried so that her tears mixed with breast-milk creating the lake.  As such, there is a local movement to have the area renamed Salar de Tunupa.

 

 

7. PU'U 'O'O, KILAUEA - HAWAII

Located in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the Pu'u 'O'o geo-magmatic vent.  At the time of writing (2009) the Pu'u 'O'o eruption has been taking place sporadically for over a quarter of a century.  During this time it has produced more than 3 cubic kilometers of lava that have re-buried 117 square kilometers of the islands surface.  Some of the lava flows from this vent have managed to travel 12 kilometres before plunging into the sea.

Even as we write this article (16 December 2009) we’ve just discovered that Kilauea is erupting again and the plume is visible from space and completely obscures the Pu'u 'O'o crater.  This is one of Hawaii’s most energetic volcanoes and has provided scientist with some of the most important insights into the relatively new science of volcanology.

 

Pu'u 'O'o geo-magmatic vent

A picture of the perfect volcanic cone of Pu'u 'O'o taken in 2007 which has subsequently collapse leaving this image as a remarkable record of a short-lived but dramatic moment in time. This image is accredited to the USGS - United States Geological Survey.

 

 

The Big Hole of Kimberley - South Africa

The Big Hole of Kimberley - South Africa. The enormous labour involved and the, often forgotten, loss of life makes this more than equal to the human effort put into the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza which is estimated to weigh only 6 million tons. This image is accredited to Irene (2005) Wiki Commons.

 

8. THE BIG HOLE - SOUTH AFRICA

Created by 19th century diamond miners, it is still widely believed to be the biggest hand-excavated hole in the world as it also once had a hill above it.  The first diamonds were discovered in 1871 on the De Beers farm near the town that is today called Kimberley.  Within months thousands of prospectors had arrived to unearth the gems.  Over the next 43 years more than 50,000 people would discover nearly 3,000 kilograms of diamonds.  In total, it is estimated that using nothing more than picks, shovels and miners buckets they displaced more than 22 million tons of earth and rock. At its deepest point it was nearly a quarter of a kilometer in below ground level. After mining became too dangerous and unproductive in 1914 the Big Hole was partially filled in with rock from other excavations and water has since accumulated to a depth of 40 metres.

 

 

9. ULURU - AUSTRALIA

Located in the Northern Territory of Australia, Uluru is a massive outcrop of eroded red sandstone (inselberg) that towers above the surrounding region.  The name derives from the local Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara peoples, the Anangu, and is a sacred place for both groups.  There are many myths and legends surrounding the origin and purpose of the formation. One source claims that it is the physical embodiment of the Turtle Spirit.  It is reputed to be very bad luck to take away any stone or part of Uluru. There are apparently many reported cases of people who have gone to great lengths to return items that they once took.  Geologically Uluru is many millions of years old and has numerous caves and small fountains.  It is estimated that the area has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years and examples of ancient rock paintings can still be seen in some of the caves.

 

Uluru / Ayers Rock - Australia

Uluru / Ayers Rock - Australia. Many of the Anangu legends feature snakes and reptiles and one in particular refers to the “Sleepy Lizard Women” that distracted even the spirits and sound remarkably like the sirens of western folklore.  This image is accredited to Bo-Deh (2005) Wiki Commons.

 

 

Lake Nyos - otherwise known as "The Lake that Killed." The outgassing of carbon dioxide was so large that it lowered the level of the lake by over a metre and turned the water to the colour of blood. 1,700 people died within two hours. This image is accredited to the USGS - United States Geological Survey.

 

10. KILLER LAKE - CAMEROON

The real name of this place is Lake Nyos but the locals now call it “Killer Lake” or “The Lake that Killed” - a well deserved name.  Located in a crater on the flanks of an inactive volcano the extremely deep waters lie above a pool of magma that slowly leaks carbon dioxide. It’s part of the Oku volcanic configuration and is located in the north-west region of Cameroon. In 1986 a vast bubble of carbon dioxide mixed with sulfur and hydrogen spewed to the surface.  In total, 1.6 million tonnes of this lethal gas spread over a huge area - reaching 23 kilometers away from the source. Hugging the ground this deadly and near undetectable concoction swept over villages and small towns.  Approximately 1,700 people and 3,500 farm animals were killed within two hours.  Survivors experienced long-term side effects including lesions, soft-tissue burns and respiratory illnesses. 

 

 

*1. Three different peoples have all linked the Polar Lights to the Fox. The Finnish people called it (and still call it) the Fire Fox, the Fox Indians of Wisconsin called it the Waiting Revenge and the Yupit peoples of Alaska are recorded as calling it the eye of the Snow Fox.

To see our first Ten Strange Places series click here.

“No quote is every worthy enough for the miracle that is Nature.”
Paul St. Claire (1964 - )

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© December 2009 - Aquiziam.com

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