We all have heard about, the Seven Wonders of the World. There are other places that seem almost alien, as if they could only exist on a planet that evolved separately from our own. These are places that scientists have had to struggle just to understand how they ever could have been formed.
The Shanay-Timpishka, also known as La Bomba, is a tributary of the Amazon River, called the “only boiling river in the world”. The river is 6.4 km long. It is known for the very high temperature of its waters—from 45°C to nearly 100°C. The name means ‘boiled by the heat of the sun’, though the source of the heat is actually geothermal.
The river gets as hot as 91C (196F)—and scientists aren’t completely sure why. Normally, water that gets this hot is fed by a volcano, but this one is 700km removed from the nearest one.
The air in the cave is very different from the outer atmosphere. The level of oxygen is only a third to half of the concentration found in open air and about one hundred times more carbon dioxide. It also contains 1–2% methane (CH4) and both the air and waters of the cave contain high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and ammonia (NH3).
Forty-eight species, among them leeches, spiders and a water scorpion are known from the cave, of which 33 are endemic. While animals have lived in the cave for 5.5 million years, not all of them arrived simultaneously. The most recent animal recorded is the cave’s only snail, which has inhabited the cave for slightly more than 2 million years.
The Petrifying Well
If an object is placed into such a well and left there for a period of weeks or months the object acquires a stony exterior. At one time this property was believed to be a result of magic or witchcraft, but it is an entirely natural phenomenon and due to a process of evaporation and deposition in waters with an unusually high mineral content.
Lake Karachay was a small lake in the southern Ural mountains in central Russia. In early 1951, the Soviet Union used Karachay as a dumping site for radioactive waste from Mayak, the nearby nuclear waste storage and reprocessing facility, located near the town of Ozyorsk. Today the lake is completely infilled, acting as “a near-surface permanent and dry nuclear waste storage facility.
The Ringing Rocks of Pennsylvania
Their being there is hardly the strangest part, though. Instead, that honor goes to the sound they make when you hit them a chiming ring that sounds almost like the cymbal on a drum kit.
There is a sulfur mine in Indonesia built into a volcano, and when the workers enter it at night they turn off their lights. They don’t need them because their way is lit by the strange, glowing-blue liquid trickling down the side like lava.
Kawah Ijen is often described as a volcano with blue lava, although scientists now know the blue trickle isn’t really lava it’s sulfur. Sulfuric gases inside heat up and burst out of it, shooting blue flames up to 5 meters into the air. The gases then condense into liquid sulfur, which spills down the mountain slopes, looking like flowing neon-blue lava.