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15 of the Strangest Geological Formations

Strangest Geological Formations

We know that the Earth is a beautiful place. If you go on discovering it, you will never fall short of amazing places. But it’s not just the wonderful and pretty scenery that surprises us. A part of Earth’s treasure is the unique and strange geology and geological formations. These special formations are purely nature’s work and are untouched by humans. Following is a list of 15 such strange yet spectacular geological formations of the world.

1. Danxia landforms, China

Rainbow mountain
Rainbow mountain

Formed from the red-colored sandstones and conglomerates of the Cretaceous Period, the unique Danxia landforms are found in southeast, southwest, and northwest China. The main characteristics that these landforms are their steep cliffs and stretched red beds.

Rainbow mountain
Rainbow mountain

Danxia landforms may look like karst topography that is found in the areas underlain by limestone, but since Danxia is not made up of the same composition, it is known as a “pseudo-karst” landform.

The landforms do not just have red cliffs; they have natural pillars, towers, ravines, valleys, and waterfalls. The landforms are home to a broad range of flora and fauna among which, 400 species are considered either rare or threatened, and this fact has also helped to conserve the sub-tropical evergreen forest.

The very name “Danxia” means “sunglow” in Chinese The landforms were named by a mineral scientist, Jinglan Feng, in 1928 when he noticed the red gluten layer surrounding the vast stretches of land. (1, 2)

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2. Round boulders, Argentina

Stone formations in Ischigualasto Provincial Park
Stone formations in Ischigualasto Provincial Park

The unique formation of these large round boulders is found in the Valley of the Moon, also known as Ischigualasto. It is located in a protected national park of the same name in the San Juan province, which is very close to the border with Chile.

Stone formations in Ischigualasto Provincial Park
Stone formations in Ischigualasto Provincial Park

The place is usually very dry with extreme temperatures. Small trees, cacti, and bushes are the only vegetation there.

The round and smooth rock boulders are the results of constant erosion by wind and water for millions of years. At that time the place was floodplain saturated with constant waterfall and heavy flowing rivers, and the rock deposits had formed slowly over time.

Remains of the world’s oldest dinosaurs have been found in nearby places of the valley, so it’s also an important site for paleontological research. Ischigualasto Provincial Park was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2000. (1, 2)

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3. Pamukkale, Turkey

Natural travertine pools in Pamukkale
Natural travertine pools in Pamukkale

Pamukkale directly means “cotton castle” in Turkish. Pamukkale is an unreal landform that has thermal pools and has attracted visitors all across the world for thousands of years.

Natural travertine pools in Pamukkale
Natural travertine pools in Pamukkale

The shiny natural spring swimming pools are rich in calcium carbonate and are made up of snow-white limestone over millennia.  Pamukkale is also known as “Hierapolis,” the “Holy City,” and is located in the Denizli Province in the southwestern region of Turkey.

Legends say that the magical formations are solidified cotton that the giants left to dry. Cotton is, in fact, the principal crop of the region.

As more and more tourists start visiting the place, hotels were built in the mid-20th century which actually turned out to be damaging to the natural monument. The hotels were demolished when UNESCO declared the place as a World Heritage Site in 1988. Now there’s a small footpath for the visitors to go up the mountain. (1, 2)

4. Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park, U.S.A.

Spire-shape rock formation at Bryce Canyon National Park
Spire-shape rock formation at Bryce Canyon National Park

The rock formations at the Bryce Canyon National Park named “Hoodoos” look like an artificial geological model but are actually irregular columns of sedimentary and volcanic rocks.

Hoodoos are just a type of rock formation and are found all across the globe, but they are abundantly available in the Bryce Canyon National Park located in Utah, U.S.A.

Spire-shape rock formation at Bryce Canyon National Park
Spire-shape rock formation at Bryce Canyon National Park

These structures are formed after frost weathering and stream erosion caused by rivers and lake beds.

The Bryce Canyon National Park is comparatively smaller and at a higher elevation than its neighboring national parks. The national park still attracts a number of visitors because of its amazing view of rock formations colored in the combination of red, orange, and white.

The region has a continental climate with warm and dry summers and has zero degrees F as its lowest temperature in the winter months. (1, 2)

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5. “Fairy Chimneys,” Turkey

Fairy Chimneys - rock formations in Cappadocia
Fairy Chimneys – rock formations in Cappadocia

Fairy chimneys are mushroom-like, spindly stems of rocks that rise out of the earth. These supernatural towers are found in Anatolia, Turkey, and have been formed over millions of years.

The process started when the volcanic eruptions rained ash all over what is now present-day Turkey. Over the course of time, the ash turned or hardened into the porous rock and was covered with a layer of basalt.

Fairy Chimneys - rock formations in Cappadocia
Fairy Chimneys – rock formations in Cappadocia

The softer part of this formation was worn out by the process of erosion, and the tougher stuff remained giving rise to the fairy chimneys that are up to 120 feet high. The structures got their mushroom shape because the upper layer of basalt erodes slower than the rest of the body.

The silk route went through this place where the fairy chimneys are located, so the area was constantly under threat from raiders and invaders. In times of threat and invasions. Centuries ago, the local people would then hide in these tunnels. (source)

Also read: 15 Enormous Places That Will Make You Feel Tiny

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