10 Incredible Natural Wonders that No Longer Exist

Nature beautifully creates examples of magnificent wonders but doesn’t hesitate to ruthlessly destroy them. To constantly establish change is the law of nature, but seeing natural icons disappear before our eyes is disheartening. There’s nothing really we can do about it except try our best to preserve those that are still here and reminisce about the natural wonders that no longer exist. Here is a list of 10 incredible natural wonders that no longer exist.  

Table of Contents

1. Larsen C Ice Shelf

A long ice shelf known as the Larsen Ice Shelf in the northwestern part of the Weddell Sea is divided into segments. The Larsen segment was the C segment, which was the fourth-largest ice shelf in Antarctica. The 44,200-square-kilometer shelf split off in July 2017 because of global warming.

 Larsen C Ice Shelf
Crack in Larsen C ice shelf. Image Credit: Ted Scambos, NSIDC/guardian.com

The entire ice shelf is named after a Norwegian whaler Captain, Carl A. Larsen, the person who sailed along the ice front in 1893. The shelf originally covered an area of 33,000 square miles. It started as narrow in the southern half, increased its width toward Antarctic Circle to the north, and then narrows again.

The Larsen C was the lower middle section. Between 10 and 12 July 2017, almost 12% of this segment broke away, and that was around 2,240 square miles.

The shelf disintegrated because it was hit by a slow-developing rift from the northwest. The rift started as being 70 miles wide in August 2016, and by the time it reached Larsen C, it was more than 125 miles wide.

Other segments faced a similar fate before. In January 1995, the northern part, Larsen A, disintegrated, and so did the upper middle section, Larsen B, in March 2002. Because of these destructive events, only 40% of the original Larsen Ice Shelf exists today. (1, 2)

2. Kaimu Beach

In 1990, a volcanic eruption and its flow of lava completely destroyed Kaimu Beach and the small town of Kaimu located in the Puna District of Hawaii. The eruption from the most active volcano in Hawaii buried the beach in 50 to 70 feet of lava and shattered the nearby Kalapana community

Kaimu Beach
Kaimu Beach is buried in lava rocks. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Before the disastrous event of 1990, Kaimu Bay, Kaimu Beach, and the small town by the same name were world-famous. The beach was known for its black sand and was surrounded by shady palm and coconut trees.

For several months, the lava from the volcanic eruption flowed to the shoreline and completely buried the beautiful beach and bay.

Although the original beach couldn’t be restored, the locals are determined to create a new one on the same land. After more than 20 years, the flow of lava has settled, and the land is ready to be used. On the stark black sand and lava rocks, people have begun to grow ferns and coconut palm trees to recreate the beach ambiance.

There is also a photographic display of the 1990 event that changed the fate of the small town forever. Nonetheless, the narrow beach is still not swimmable because of the strong currents and hazardous surf. It will take years for the beach to be restored to its original state. (1, 2)

3. Jeffrey Pine

One of the most cherished landmarks at Yosemite National Park was the Jeffrey Pine of Sentinel Dome. This scenic tree perished from drought in the late 1970s and eventually toppled over in 2003. It survived for 400 years, but all that remains on the sight now is its bleached wood.

Jeffrey Pine
Image to the left -Jeffrey Pine before its death. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com, Shutterstock.com

This gnarled old tree atop an 8,122-foot sentimental dome appeared as if it is growing out of seamless granite. The iconic tree went through every storm that the Sierra Nevada had to throw at it. Therefore, it was bent horizontally like an old man.

Hikers used to happily trek a 2.4 mile trip from Glacier Point Road just to have a glance at the tree and take a photograph with it. Nobody is sure how it embedded its roots in such an isolated spot on the granite dome.

It even captured the attention of pioneer photographers like Carleton Watkins in 1867 and Ansel Adams in 1940.

The pine had already died in 1976-77, but park officials tried their best to keep it standing for three more decades. It is believed that it finally toppled on 10 August 2003 after a storm hit the area. (1, 2)

4. Azure Window

Off the shores of Malta on Goza Island, there was a 28-meter-tall natural arch known as the “Azure Window.” The arch was one of the major tourist attractions on the island and was also featured in several international movies. On 8 March 2017, the island faced unfortunate weather that shattered multiple natural features on the island including the Azure Window.

Azure Window
Image to the left- Azure Window before destruction. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com, Shutterstock.com

Also known as the “Dwejra Window,” it appeared like a pillar rising from the sea attached to the side cliff by a horizontal slab.

The classic arch was used in a number of international shows and movies. It was featured in the first episode of the popular HBO series Games of Thrones.

It is believed that the Azure Window was created recently in the 19th century when a sea cave was destroyed by erosion.

In 2013, studies were conducted regarding the life of the limestone arch, and it was revealed that even if exposure to erosion is inevitable, it will take a long time before the arch would collapse. 

Officials had placed a signboard warning people to not walk on the landmark, though that advice was often ignored.

The window finally collapsed into the sea in 2017 when a big wave hit it from below. (1, 2)

5. Slims Valley 

The retreat of the Yukon glacier in Canada resulted in the disappearance of the Slims River. The river was the main source of water to the Kluane Lake and flowed through a mesmerizing Slims Valley that no longer exists. This happened because the Kaskawulsh Glacier retreated to the point where its meltwater went away from the valley in a completely different direction.

Slims Valley
Image to the left- Slims Valley before the water went away. Image Credit: Mbochart/wikimedia.org, Shutterstock.com

The same glacier earlier used to send water to the Slims River finally pouring into the Bering Sea. Now the situation is that it retreated to the point that it changed its course. It joined the Kaskawulsh River that flows south toward the Gulf of Alaska.

This phenomenon of one river stealing another’s flow is termed “river piracy” in modern terms. Geologists hold extensive knowledge about river piracy but have never seen it happening ever. Researchers mentioned that it was the first time something like this has happened as far as we know in the last 350 years.

One of the conclusions drawn from the event was that the Slims River only existed temporarily, i.e. it was just a 300-year-old hydrological whim. Most of the meltwater from the Kaskawulsh River diverted into the Slims Valley, and thus it started flowing in 1700. Now the settings are back to their former stage and the river and valley had disappeared. (1, 2)

Also read: 10 Places on Earth With Recurring Mysteries

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