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From Australia’s bubblegum-pink lake to a blood-red waterfall in Antarctica, these seven destinations are some of the world’s strangest sights.


Majestic mountains and sparkling seas always attract travellers – but sometimes nature has a bigger trick up her sleeve. To track down some of the world’s strangest sights, we turned to question-and-answer site Quora, asking: What are some of the best rare natural phenomena that occur on Earth?


From Australia’s bubblegum-pink lake and a blood-red waterfall in Antarctica to a secret beach-in-a-hole in Mexico and a US valley where stones eerily move, these seven spots are Mother Nature’s eyeball-popping sideshow.


Frozen methane bubbles, Canada

they look otherworldly, like flying saucers that dropped into the water and froze, or ancient, ice-encapsulated jellyfish. In fact, these icy circles are frozen methane bubbles – pockets of gas that, when trapped underwater and frozen, form a spectacular landscape.

Found in winter in high northern latitude lakes like Lake Abraham in Alberta, Canada, these gas bubbles are created when dead leaves, grass and animals fall into the water, sink and are eaten by bacteria that excrete methane. The gas is released as bubbles that transform into tens of thousands of icy white disks when they come into contact with frozen water, Quora user Mayur Kanaiya explains.
冬季时北半球高纬的湖泊,比如加拿大阿尔伯塔省的亚伯拉罕湖,就会有这样的沼气泡泡景观。湖底的微生物蚕食沉入水底的枯叶、枯草或动物死尸,并释放沼气, 由此便形成了沼气泡泡。当这些气体包裹在泡泡里被释放到水中时,它们与冰冻的湖水接触就变成了成千上万的冰碟子。Quora的一位用户马尤尔•卡奈雅这样 解释。

It’s a stunning, but potentially dangerous sight. This potent greenhouse gas not only warms the planet, but also is highly flammable. Come spring, when the ice melts, the methane bubbles pop and fizz in a spectacular release – but if anyone happens to light a match nearby, the masses of methane will ignite into a giant explosion.

Curious travellers can see these gassy hiccups in lakes across Canada’s Banff National Park, or in the Arctic Ocean off Siberia, where researchers have found gargantuan gas bubbles as large as 900m across.


Blood Falls, Antarctica


The name says it all. Blood Falls, in East Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys, looks like slowly pouring scarlet-red blood, staining snowy white Taylor Glacier and Lake Bonney below. It’s a surprising – and creepy – sight to behold.

The trickling crimson liquid isn’t blood, however. Nor is it water dyed by red algae, as early Antarctica pioneers first speculated. In fact, the brilliant ochre tint comes from an extremely salty sub-glacial lake, explains Quora user Aditya Bhardwaj.

About two million years ago, a hyper-saline body of water became trapped beneath Taylor Glacier, isolated from light, oxygen and heat. As the saltwater trickles through a fissure in the glacier, it reacts with the oxygen in the air to create this spectacular, rust-hued cascade.

It’s a visual and scientific wonder, and Taylor Glacier – accessible only by helicopter from McMurdo Station or Scott Base, or cruise ship in the Ross Sea – is the only spot on Earth to see it.


Sailing Stones, US




When visitors stumbled upon scores of heavy stones that appeared to have moved across the dried lake bed of Racetrack Playa in California’s Death Valley National Park, leaving a tell-tale trail in their wake, scientists were baffled. How had so many boulders, some weighing 300kg, moved as much as 250m across this remote part of the valley, asks Quora user Farhana Khanum?

Adding to the mystery, some trails were gracefully curved, while others were straight with sudden shifts to the left or right. Who, or what, had moved the stones? A slew of theories emerged, from magnetic fields to alien intervention to dust devils to pranksters.

It took a NASA scientist to crack the case. In 2006, Ralph Lorenz developed a kitchen table model using a small rock frozen in an inch of water in a Tupperware container to demonstrate ice shove, the phenomenon behind the mysterious sailing stones.

In winter, Racetrack Playa fills with water and the lakebed’s stones become encased in ice. Thanks to ice’s buoyancy, even a light breeze can send those frozen boulders sailing across the muddy bottom of the lakebed. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight tracks, while those with smooth bottoms drift and digress. Warmer months melt the ice and evaporate the water, leaving only the stones and their mysterious trails.
一到冬季,赛马场盐湖涨满了水,而湖床里的石头则被冰封起来。由于冰有浮力,即使是一阵轻风也能帮扶着冰冻卵石一直划过湖床的泥泞底部。底部不光滑的石头 会留下直线划痕,而底部光滑的石头则会漂移,偏离原路。天气开始转暖时,冰雪消融,水汽蒸发,留下的只剩那些风帆石和它们神秘的移动轨迹。

Visitors can see these sailing stones in a few locations, including Little Bonne Claire Playa in Nevada and most famously, Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa.


Kawah Ijen Lake, Indonesia




Travellers flock to the Indonesian island of Java to see the magnificent Kawah Ijen volcano – but what they don’t expect to find is the stunning turquoise-hued caldera lake at the volcano’s summit. To add to the drama, bright, citrine-coloured stones and billows of white gasses surround the 1km-wide aquamarine lake in a spectacular show.

One element is responsible for the entire, striking scene: sulphur. The magma chamber below the volcano pours sulphuric gases into the lake. Combined with a high concentration of dissolved metals, the gases turn the water a brilliant shade of blue. They also render the Ijen crater-lake the world’s largest highly acidic lake with a pH of 0.5.

“Hydrogen chloride released from Ijen volcano mixed with the lake and turned it into an acidic monstrosity that it is today,” writes Quora user Vinay Sisodia. “What makes this place even more stunning, especially at night, is shots of sulphuric gases that combust into glints of bright blue upon contact with air.”

Intrepid travellers can join three-hour hikes to the bank of the crater to experience the lake in person.


Hidden Beach, Mexico



It’s a vacationer’s dream: a secret beach tucked away from the masses, with shade, sun and pristine water. And this dream comes true at Playa Del Amor, more commonly known as Hidden Beach, on one of the Marieta Islands off the coast of Mexico.

The unlikely source of this magical little secret: a bomb blast, according to Quora user Siddhartha Das. Mexico began testing bombs in the uninhabited Marieta Islands in the early 1900s, resulting in a gaping hole in the surface of one of the islands. Over time, tides filled the hole with sand and water, creating a secluded watery Eden where determined beach bums can swim, sunbathe and kayak largely out of sight.
Quora用户悉达多•达斯说,造就这片非凡之地的奥秘是一场炸弹引爆事件。墨西哥在上世纪初开始在无人居住的玛丽埃塔群岛试验炸弹,他们在其中一个小岛 上炸出了窟窿。时间一长,潮水带来的细沙和海水覆盖了这个炸弹洞,造就了这个远离喧嚣的海上伊甸园,海滨达人在这里游泳,晒日光浴,划皮艇。

Playa Del Amor, literally Lover’s Beach, is invisible from the outside, but visitors can access it through a 24m-long tunnel that links the secluded beach to the ocean.


Pink Lake Hillier, Australia



Fly over Western Australia for a rare visual treat: nestled among dense emerald-green woodlands surrounded by the deep blue of the Southern Ocean are a series of lakes in a shocking shade of bubblegum pink.

One of the most well known is Lake Hillier, a 600m-long lake on the edge of Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago off Western Australia’s south coast. Surrounded by a thin ring of sand and an expansive forest of paperbark and eucalyptus trees, the rosy pink lake punctuates a stunning landscape.

But even more surprising than its Pepto-Bismol shade is that “nobody seems to be able to definitively explain its distinctive colour,” according to Quora user Garrick Saito. Possible causes include the presence of green algae that can accumulate high levels of beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment; haloarchaea, a type of microorganism that appears reddish in large blooms; or a high concentration of pink brine prawn.
Quora用户加里克•萨伊托说,然而比它那佩托比斯摩(Pepto-Bismol,美国一种粉红包装药物品牌)外形更令人诧异的是“几乎没有人能解释那 独一无二的粉色湖水成因。”可能的原因有:湖水中的绿藻含大量β胡萝卜素,这种胡萝卜素有橘红色染色功能;一种只要大量聚集就能呈现红色的微生物;或是大 量聚集的粉红色盐水虾。

Most tourists admire the chromatic splendour of Lake Hillier from a helicopter or plane ride. For on-the-ground visitors, there’s an added treat: Lake Hillier is highly saline but the water isn't toxic, so pack your swimsuit and go for a swim. Thanks to its high salinity, you’ll bob like a cork.


Fairy Circles, Namibia



Across the arid grasslands of the Namib Desert lies an eerie sight: millions of circular patches of land void of plants, each between 2m and 15m in diameter, arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern across 2,500km of land. These disks of bare soil, known as fairy circles, pockmark the landscape in Namibia, as if giant moths ate through the vast carpets of grassland.

Adding to the mystery, no one knows for certain what causes these otherworldly formations, writes Quora user Prem Rathaur. But there’s no shortage of theories.

Scientists have suggested radioactive soil, or that toxins released from plants kills the vegetation in circular patterns. Others believe the circles are the work of sand termites. To store water, they burrow in the soil in ring-like patterns and consume the roots of vegetation to allow underlying grains of sand to absorb falling rain.

Another hypothesis ascribes the circles to competition for resources. In harsh landscapes, plants compete for water and nutrients. As weaker plants die and stronger ones grow, vegetation “self-organizes” into unusual patterns.

Considering the eerie beauty of these phenomena, perhaps the most fitting theory is that of local bushmen, who say fairy circles are nothing less than the footprints of gods.