Penitentes – Spikey Snow Formations in the Andes resembling to praying folk

Penitentes are snow formations found at high altitudes. They take the form of elongated, thin blades of hardened snow or ice, closely spaced and pointing towards the direction of the sun.
The name comes from the resemblance of a field of penitentes to a crowd of kneeling people doing penance. The formation evokes the tall, pointed habits and hoods worn by brothers of religious orders in the Processions of Penance during Spanish Holy Week. In particular the brothers’ hats are tall, narrow, and white, with a pointed top.
These spires of snow and ice grow over all glaciated and snow-covered areas in the Dry Andes above 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) and range in length from a few centimeters to over 5 meters (16 ft).
info: wikipedia

By ESO/B. Tafreshi (twanight.org) – CC BY 4.0, Link

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Punch hole clouds

A fallstreak hole is a large circular gap, that can appear in  clouds. Such  holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the failure of ice nucleation. When ice crystals do form they will set off a chain reaction causing the water droplets around the ice crystals to evaporate leaving a large usually circular or elliptical hole.

H. Raab (User:Vesta), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Desert Rose — Rose-like formation of crystal clusters

Desert rose is the colloquial name given to rose-like formations of crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which include sand grains. The ‘petals’ are crystals fanning open in radiating flattened crystal clusters. The rosette crystal habit tends to occur when the crystals form in arid sandy conditions, such as the evaporation of a shallow salt basin. The crystals form a circular array of flat plates, giving the rock a shape similar to a rose blossom.
info: wikipedia

Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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King of Wings rock formation

King of Wings, a rock formation in the remote part of the badlands of San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico, seems to defy the laws of physics and gravity.  A piece of sandstone jutting out ten feet into the air that sits atop a column of stone hoodoo is a spectacle to see.

John Fowler/FLICKR (CC BY 2.0)

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Hair Ice – Fungus shapes a strange kind of ice that is found on rotting logs

Hair ice, also known as ice wool or frost beard, is a type of ice that forms on dead wood and takes the shape of fine, silky hair. It is somewhat uncommon, and has been reported mostly at latitudes between 45–55 °N in broad leaf forests. Hair ice forms on moist, rotting wood from broad leaf trees when temperatures are slightly under 0 °C (32 °F) and the air is humid. Each of the smooth, silky hairs has a diameter of about 0.02 mm (0.0008 in) and a length of up to 20 cm (8 in). The hairs are brittle, but take the shape of curls and waves. They can maintain their shape for hours and sometimes days. A piece of wood that produces hair ice once may continue to produce it over several years.
In the year 2015, German and Swiss scientists identified the fungus Exidiopsis effusa as key to the formation of hair ice. The fungus was found on every hair ice sample examined by the researchers, and disabling the fungus with fungicide or hot water prevented hair ice formation.
info: wikipedia

Des Colhoun / A mystery of Nature on Altyre Estate

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Three Whale Rock – Incredible Rock Formation in Thailand’s National Forest

Hin Sam Wan (Three Whale Rock), is a 75 million-year-old rock formation at the top of the mountains in Thailand. It earned its name because from the right perspective, it bears a remarkable resemblance to a family of whales.

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Thimmamma Marrimanu – The Biggest Tree Canopy on the Planet

Thimmamma Marrimanu in India is world’s largest banyan tree. It appears to be an entire forest, with Its canopy covers 19,107 m2 (4.721 acres). In 1989 it was recorded as the largest tree specimen in the world in the Guinness Book of World Records . According to a local myth, the tree is named after Thimmamma, a woman who committed sati (suicide by throwing herself on the funeral pyre of her husband’s dead body). The tree is said to have originated from one of the poles used in the funeral pyre. Thimmamma Marrimanu contains a small temple at its base and is still worshiped to this day by the local community.

Satellite view of Thimmamma Marrimanu MAP DATA © 2017 Google (CREATIVE COMMONS)

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Mysterious ‘fairy circles’ built by grasses

Fairy circles are circular patches of land barren of plants, varying between 2 and 15 meter in diameter, often encircled by a ring of stimulated growth of grass. Until 2014, the phenomenon was only known to occur in the arid grasslands of the Namib desert. In that year, ecologists were alerted to similar rings of vegetation outside of Africa, in a part of the Pilbara in Western Australia.
The cause of fairy circles has long been a puzzle and the investigation has proved challenging. One favored theory is that the distinct vegetation patterns are a population-level consequence of competition for scarce water, as the plants “organise” themselves to maximise access to scarce resources. The circular barren patches capture water which then flows to the outer edges of the ring. More water available increases biomass and roots which leads to the soil becoming looser. The less dense soil allows more water to penetrate and feed the vegetation, creating a feedback loop supporting the plants at the edge of the circle.
info: wikipedia

By Stephan Getzin via CC BY 2.5, Link

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Onekotan Island

Onekotan is an uninhabited volcanic island located near the northern end of the Kuril Islands along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” Onekotan consists of two stratovolcanos connected by a relatively flat isthmus.
Krenitsyn is the prominent caldera at the southern end of the island. The mountain rises from a depth of from 600 to 900 meters, and contains a deep central caldera lake with a diameter of 7 kilometers, called Tao-Rusyr Caldera. The central peak of this “island within the island” is actually the highest point on Onekotan Island
Nemo is the peak to the north. It has two nested subsidiary calderas, with the cone of Nemo Peak rising in the southwest end of the youngest caldera and a crescent-shaped crater lake, named Lake Chernoye, partially filling the northeast part.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA / Public domain

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The Sculptural Rock Formations Of White Desert

White Desert National Park in Egypt, is the site of large white chalk rock formations, created through erosion by occasional sandstorm in the area. Some of them have developed nicknames over the years. The most famous are called “chicken and mushroom”, “camel” and “whale”, among other things. Arguably, the best way to experience the wonders of the White Desert is to camp overnight because these sculptural formations look most impressive at sunrise or sunset.

By Christine Schultz (Link

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