Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The world's strangest places

Planet earth can be a strange place, full of intriguing geological quirks and natural oddities. This huge rock in the Nevada desert earned the name Elephant Rock for obvious reasons. Getting to see it is easy - drive or take a bus tour to the scorching Valley Of Fire, just outside of Las Vegas.

The Blue Hole in the ocean off Belize is a spectacular sight from the air and a treat for divers. It's believed to have been formed after the Ice Age, when ice melted and the sea rose, covering what was once a huge cave system. Divers can explore that now-flooded collection of caverns which brims with barracuda, sharks, coral, angelfish and many other sea critters.

Four hours' drive east of PerthWestern Australia, you'll find the aptly-named Wave Rock, a does-what-it- says-on-the- tin piece of incredible natural sculpture.It stands 15 metres high and 100 metres long and its curious shape is the result of hundreds of millions of years' worth of weathering and erosion. The effect is completed by striped lines, created when water caused minerals to dissolve and leak colour down the "wave".

The bizarre pinnacles of Utah's Bryce Canyon were created by erosion and rainwater eating into colouful limestone rock. Many of the outcrops resemble famous personages and locations, although some lookalikes are more convincing than others; look out for Queen Victoria on the throne (and we do mean the throne, not the er... other sort of throne) and a giant rabbit. 

The Devil's Bath is one of the most striking sights in the Wai-O-Tapu thermal springs area of New Zealand.This sulphuric pool is part of a large area that heaves and bubbles with geothermal activity. Wai-O-Tapu is just a few minutes's drive from the town ofRotorua but be warned: the Devil's Bath smells even worse than it looks. 

The Hawaiian islands are a hotbed of geological activity and curious phenomena. This remote Green Sand Beach (or Puu Mahana to the locals) on the island of Hawaii (aka Big Island) is rarely explored by visitors so you'll probably have it all to yourself.The striking colour is caused by olivine crystals that come from the lava flow from the volcano Mauna Loa.

Crdt to :  email Sirajuddin Abbas

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