Weird Earth

June 14, 2009 at 2:51 pm (Science)

Some totally amazing and totally alien looking places on our very own little Earth.

The Dry Valleys of Antarctica are said to be the most similar place on Earth to Mars. Located within Victoria Land west of McMurdo sound, this region of Antarctica gets almost no snowfall, and with the exception of a few steep rocks, are the only continental part of Antarctica devoid of ice. Lake Vanda, in Wright Valley, is a perennially frozen lake several meters thick. Beneath that lies extremely salty water teeming with simple organisms, a subject of ongoing research. Less desirable in the perfect coctail icecube, but that threaded patterning in the ice lake is stunning. Via Oddee via Dark Roasted Blend.

The plantlife on this island resemble an intersting mix of Disneyland fairytale proportions gone organic and beyond lifesize slime molds. That slime molds link, by the way, takes you to some awesome photographs of slime molds — micro mushrooms.

Socotra Island, located in the Indian Ocean, is a part of a group of four islands that has been geographically isolated from the mainland Africa for some 6 or 7 million years. Like the Galapagos Islands, Socotra is teeming with 700 extremely rare species of flora and fauna, a full 1/3 of which are endemic.

Some of the trees and plants on this island, preserved through the long geological isolation, date back as old as 20 million years. Via Oddee via Sinlung.

Lastly, the Rio Tinto in Spain. It is the giant opencast mines of the Rio Tinto that create its surreal, Mars-like landscape. The rmoval of layer upon layer of soil and rock in search of iron ore, copper, silver, and a host of other mineral ores, has tinted this part of the world in hues of dusty pink, brown, yellow, red, and grey. The sheer magnitude of the mining has created depressions that resemble a man-made crater that measures several kilometers across.

The terraced rocks are streaked with unusual colors of mineral ores, creating the impression of a natural amphitheater.

But the Rio Tinto is more than an isolated cavity on the Earth’s surface. Its growth has concumed not only mountains and valleys but entire villages, whose populations had to be resettled in specially built towns nearby. Named for the river that flows through the region itself — which was named for the reddish streaks of color that permeates its waters — the unearthed minerals give the soil and waters of the region odd, otherworldly shades of blue, green, yellow, red and brown, making the Rio Tinto a landscape within a landscape. Via Oddee via andalucia.com.

2 Comments

  1. Zuri said,

    The Galapagos Islands are the most incredible living museum of evolutionary changes, with a huge variety of exotic species (birds, land animals, plants) and landscapes not seen anywhere else.

    • Gilding said,

      A couple of years back my college took 10 students and 4 professors to the Galapagos Islands for 2 weeks. They cam back with some amazing pictures. I’d love to go to the Island but something tells me its not going to be very wheelchair accessible :( Oh well, such is the price to pay for prehistoric preservation and all that.

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