The following are some of the most awe-inspiring and amazing geological oddities found around the world. These fantastic spots, most of which are purely natural phenomena, are all quite certainly worth a visit
1. The Moving Rocks of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, California
Death Valley, California, is a place where rocks can be found to move on their own. Surrounding the racetrack are pebbles and boulders strewn all about. Strangely, some of the rocks really do move, though others stay completely still. While some people are of the view that the movement of the rocks is caused by magnetic forces, others feel that the phenomenon is caused by prevailing winds.
2. The Richat Structure or “Eye of the Sahara”
This impressive sight can be seen in Mauritania, at the southwestern tip of the Sahara desert. This land formation is so large, with a diameter of 30 miles, that it can in fact be seen from outer space. Originally, this structure was believed to have been formed by a meteorite impact. However, geologists now feel that it is the result of uplifting and erosion.
3. The Driest Place on Earth, the Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert receives less than 1mm of rain per year and is considered to be the driest place on the planet. The desert is the product of the Andes rain-shadow. The trade winds which move east along South America begin to lose all moisture when they hit the steep slopes of the Andes Mountains. The Atacama Desert is located against the western slopes of the mountain range and therefore receives very little precipitation.
4. The Naica Mine, Cave of Crystals, Mexico
These caves, found in a mine in Chihuahua Mexico, have some of the biggest crystals ever discovered and are a spectacular sight. Made of Gypsum, the crystals were allowed to grow unimpeded and hence are worth a mention among the world’s top-most geological oddities.
5. The Curtain of Fire, Hawaii
During the initial stage of the Puu Oo eruption in January, 1983, these amazing lava fountains erupted first. They later formed a wall of magma 100-160 feet high along the Eastern Rift of Mount Kilauea following a fissure.
Clearly, it can be really scary to see the earth literally opening up and swallowing your entire home. However, truth is often stranger than fiction, and this is a frightening reality that has occurred in some places such as the southeastern United States. Sinkholes are a rare geographical phenomenon found in areas of Karst Topography, where caverns appear as a result of erosion by groundwater of pockets of loose sedimentary rock found under the surface.
7. Stone Forest, Southwest China
The Shilin or ‘stone forest’ is an apt example of karst topography. The limestone rock formations there were formed as a result of water penetrating the ground’s surface and eroding away everything but the pillars.
8. Hell’s Gate in Uzbekistan
This site is truly worth a visit and it has an amazing story as well. While geologists were drilling for gas, 35 years ago, outside the small town of Darvaz, Uzbekistan, the drilling equipment unexpectedly hit a pocket and the entire thing caved in. The gas which the geologists were searching for began to permeate the ground. The geologists lit the gas on fire to prevent potential harm to anyone in that area. Amazingly, this area has been burning ever since.
9. The Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada
The Bay of Fundy is another geological marvel, or oddity, worth a mention. One thing unique about the Bay of Fundy is that although there are huge and unpredictable tides, people still run boats on them even. Half way through the day, it is common for any given boat can be suddenly grounded.
10. Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
This huge rock rises majestically over its otherwise barren surroundings. The hexagonal shape of Devil’s Tower was caused by the cooling of magma which also cracks and a unique pattern which is called ‘Jointing’.