Pamukkale – Turkey
Known as “cotton castle” in Turkish language, the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site is host to strikingly beautiful white natural formations. The city contains hot springs, waterfalls, and terraced basins made up of mineral deposits.
The splendor of Pamukkale was of special interest to Greeks who established the city of Hierapolis atop the white castle in the 2nd Century BC. Seeing the ruins of the Greek temples and baths, it is not hard to imagine ancient Greek philosophers roaming around and appreciating the marvels of nature.
Fly Ranch Geyser – Nevada, United States
The Fly Ranch Geyser in Nevada, United States, is fascinating not only because of its scenic beauty but also because of its origins. How so? The Geyser is not entirely a natural phenomenon, neither was it intentionally created by humans.
It was accidentally created when a group of explorers dug wells in 1964 while finding sources of geothermal energy. The well may not have been capped correctly causing the dissolved minerals to accumulate and form the colorful mound which continues to grow till this day.
Rio Tinto – Spain
The deep reddish waters of the Río Tinto in Spain have tapped human curiosity and evoked human greed since ancient times. Although the waters may look beautiful, they might be deadly acidic (pH levels up to 2) due to dissolved iron which also gives the water its reddish hue. Rio Tinto translates into red river in Spanish.
The sites near the river are notable for huge copper, silver, gold, and other minerals. When we say huge, we mean unimaginably enormous. Humans have been mining the site since thousands of years before the Greeks and Romans existed! The Iberians and Tartessians were doing it in 3,000 BC and the EMED Mining is doing it now. That’s a wonder of the world right there.
The Great Blue Hole – Belize
This magnificent underwater sinkhole is located near the coast of Belize in Central America. A sinkhole is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. The Great Blue Hole was popularized by Jacques-Yves Cousteau who declared it one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world.
In 1971, Cousteau set off to chart its depth which is an astonishing 125 m (410 ft). The Hole is a part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System which is also listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Door to Hell – Turkmenistan
The origins of the Door to Hell are not as dramatic as its name and not half as scary as it looks. It is a natural gas field in Derweze which is notable for its natural gas fire which was lit by Soviet scientists in 1971. If you happen to be somewhere near the field, you would probably be bugged by the prevalent bad smell of sulfur.
The hole was created when Soviet scientists set up a drilling rig and camp to assess the quantity of available gas reserves. The ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a wide crater and disappeared. Thankfully no lives were lost in the incident. When scientists feared the release of poisonous gases from the cavern, they decided to burn it off, expecting the gas to burn out within weeks. It did not. The Door to Hell continues to burn till this very day.