8 Spectacular Natural Phenomena

May 17, 2023

By Aswirbaad Das

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Popularly known as the ‘Mirror of the sky’, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat at a sprawling 10,582 square kilometers. The salt when mixed with a thin layer of water during certain seasons transforms the land into a dazzling landscape of reflections. It is also home to 50–70% of the world’s known lithium reserves.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Sailing Stones, USA

Heavy rocks moving on their own across the flat desert of Death Valley National Park, USA, might seem alienesque, but they are not! What actually happens is that in the winters, the thin slabs of floating ice around the rocks melt, nudging them into motion with a little help from light winds – a rather simple phenomenon that was mysterious to us until a few years ago.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Moonbow, Hawaii

A rainbow around the moon surely sounds like made-up stuff, unless you chance upon one in Hawaii! Similar to its solar counterpart, the moonbow, or lunar rainbow, appears as a giant arc when moonlight is refracted through water droplets in the air. Its size and intensity, though, depend on the moon’s height in a dark sky – the lower the moon, the bigger the moonbow.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Kawah Ijen, Indonesia

It is not a blue-fire dragon’s pit, but rather a composite volcano located at the easternmost part of Java island in Indonesia! It is also home to the largest acidic lake in the world, containing 27.5 million cubic metres of turquoise-coloured water with concentration (pH) less than 0.3. The abundance of sulphur released from the fumaroles burns like blue-hot lava and gives the volcano a mythical identity.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Lake Hillier, Australia

A lake that loves to wear pink! Located on the Recherche archipelago, this surreal lake is believed to get its colour due to the presence of seaweed rich in carotenoids belonging to the species dunalielia. During high salinity and temperature conditions, this algae releases a pigment that paints the lake pink.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Danxia Landforms, China

Truly a natural masterpiece, the Danxia landform was once a part of the ocean about 540 million years ago. Tectonic movements and collisions folded the land and propelled it above sea level, giving the landform a unique topography. The vast multitude of reds, blues, yellows and greens caused by metamorphic progressions gave rise to its name, the ‘Rainbow Mountains’.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Sort Sol, Denmark

The Black Sun (Sort Sol in Danish) is a poetic natural phenomenon that occurs every year in spring and autumn when millions of starlings travelling north make a pitstop at Wadden Sea National Park’s marshlands for rest and food. What seems like a well-choreographed routine is also these starlings’ ingenious ways to fend off predators while hiding the sun with their sheer numbers.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Socotra Dragon Tree, Yemen

This ‘upside-down umbrella tree’ is indigenous only to the island of Socotra, Yemen, and is categorised under the Dracaena genus of the Asoaragaceae family. When truncated, the tree bleeds a red liquid, which is actually a form of red resin containing an important element called Draco that is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to treat health problems like burns, ulcers, etc.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons