Over hundreds and thousands of years, nature has managed to carve out numerous structures that lend the Earth its marvelous beauty. At the same time, it’s also true that some of these wonders are simply strange, despite being immensely fascinating. But as unusual as these wonders are, they still deserve to be truly admired for their uniqueness. So, with that in mind, here are ten unusual natural wonders that could belong in a movie.
1. Caño Cristales, Colombia
This 62.1-mile-long river is located in Colombia’s Serranía de la Macarena National Park, and is often called the “liquid rainbow.” During the moderate seasons, the bed of the river appears brightly colored in red, yellow, blue, green, and black. These colors are produced during the reproductive cycles of an aquatic plant in the river.
Caño Cristales is a unique natural wonder located in Colombia’s Serranía de la Macarena National Park. Often called the “liquid rainbow”, this river transforms into an explosion of vibrant colors (typically red, yellow, blue, green, and black) during specific times of the year.
This unusual sight is caused by the reproductive cycle of a unique plant that grows in the river, Macarenia clavigera. During the moderate season, typically from July to October, this plant turns the bed of the river into a brilliant red.
Then, combined with splotches of yellow, green sand, and other things in the water, the river appears colorful. However, during the wet and dry seasons, this phenomenon is difficult to observe since the river water levels are not optimal for the growth of the plant.
Previously, this spot was closed off to visitors due to concerns regarding unregulated tourist traffic and also because of guerilla activity in the region. In 2009, it was opened to the public, but experts still remain concerned about the environmental impact of visitors to the area. (1, 2)
2. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil
Although it appears like any other desert, Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil is located near the Amazon Basin and receives intense rainfall each year. As a result, the valleys between the sand dunes fill with water, giving it its unusual appearance. These lagoons can reach up to 300 feet in length and ten feet in depth.
Characterized by large sand dunes and crystal clear lagoons that appear seasonally, Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is truly one of a kind.
The park is typically noted for its desert-like appearance, but since it is located adjacent to the Amazon Basin, it receives far too much rainfall (about 47 inches a year) to be officially classified as such. Consequently, from July to September, the depressions between the sand dunes fill up with water and form beautiful lagoons that sometimes run up to 300 feet in length and ten feet in depth.
More importantly, despite its barren appearance, the park also supports a number of unique organisms during the wet seasons. One such example is the wolffish that is known to lie dormant during the dry seasons and come out during the wet seasons to feed on insects and other fish. (1, 2)
3. Kawah Ijen Volcano, Indonesia
The Indonesian Kawah Ijen volcano is infamous for its bright “blue lava.” Contrary to popular belief, however, this effect is not produced by lava. Rather, the blue color documented at this volcano is caused by sulfur gasses that burn when they come in contact with air.
The Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia received particular attention after a Paris-based photographer, Olivier Grunewald, released numerous pictures of it. These photographs also highlighted one of its most unique aspects, the “blue lava.” But contrary to popular belief, this blue glow is not caused by lava.
During the day, the volcano appears like any other, with its molten lava glowing orange or red. However, at night, the sulfur gasses in the volcano lend it the unusual blue glow as they burn readily in the presence of air. These gasses emerge from the volcano at high pressures and temperatures, up to 1,112 °F, which spur on the reaction.
This volcano is one of the few places where sulfur mining is still done by hand, often in extremely dangerous conditions. Apart from the blue lava, this site is also known for the Kawah Ijen Crater Lake that appears green due to the hydrochloric acid it contains. (1, 2)
4. Forest of Borth, Wales
The Forest of Borth is a sunken forest more than 4,500 years old that emerges during low tides. Its ancient trees have been identified as pine, alder, birch, and oak, and the forest is even associated with local legends of a mystical civilization. Parts of this forest were uncovered in 2014 when a storm stripped away tons of sand from the area.
In 2014, a massive storm blew away tons of sand from beaches in Cardigan Bay, Wales, and revealed the remains of an ancient, sunken forest. These trees, identified as pine, birch, oak, and alder, most likely died more than 4,500 years ago. However, the anaerobic nature of the peat kept them well-preserved until the storm unearthed them.
This wonder, called the Forest of Borth, is thought to have stretched for miles between Borth and Ynyslas before the rising sea levels drowned and buried them. The skeletal trees are also thought to be the source for local legends of a lost kingdom named Cantre’r Gwaelod.
Archeologists have also found other things in the area, like a timber walkway made from short, coppiced branches and remains of ancient stone hearths. The petrified remains of this forest become easily visible during low tides in the village of Borth. (1, 2)
5. Marble Caves, Chile
Carved into the Patagonian Andes, the Marble Caves are located in Lake General Carrera in Chile. They were formed by the action of water on calcium carbonate formations over nearly 6,000 years. The swirling hues of the caves are a reflection of the waters surrounding them and change depending on the time of the year.
Nestled within the Patagonian Andes, the Marble Caves of Chile are located on a peninsula of solid marble in Lake Carrera, a remote glacial lake. The caves are the result of 6,000-plus years of waves washing away layers of the marble structure. However, the swirling, smooth colors of blue and green seen inside the caves are simply the reflection of the water that surrounds them.
As the seasons change and the water levels go up or down, the intensity of the water’s hues also shift. Due to this, around summertime, when glacial runoff raises the water levels, the caves appear to be a deep, cerulean blue. But despite the unusual beauty of this natural wonder, it appears rather innocuous from the outside.
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