Where is Giant’s Causeway located?

Giant’s Causeway, Irish Clochán an Aifir, promontory of basalt columns along 4 miles (6 km) of the northern coast of Northern Ireland. It lies on the edge of the Antrim plateau between Causeway Head and Benbane Head, some 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Londonderry. 

Formed 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleogene Period, the Giant’s Causeway resulted from successive flows of lava inching toward the coast and cooling when they contacted the sea. Layers of basalt formed columns, and the pressure between these columns sculpted them into polygonal shapes that vary from 15 to 20 inches (38 to 51 cm) in diameter and measure up to 82 feet (25 metres) in height. They are arrayed along cliffs averaging some 330 feet (100 metres) in elevation.

First documented in 1693, the formation has been intensively studied by geologists. The Giant’s Causeway and its coastal environs were bequeathed to the National Trust (a British organization that promotes the preservation of natural and architectural wonders) in 1961. Subsequently, the site was extended to some 200 acres (80 hectares); it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. It is protected not only for its beauty but also because its cliffs, seashores, marshes, and grasslands are home to some 50 species of birds, as well as to more than 200 species of plants. Humans settled around the Giant’s Causeway in the 19th century, but the site is now uninhabited. It does, however, attract some 300,000 tourists annually. Deriving its name from local folklore, it is fabled to be the work of giants, particularly of Finn MacCumhaill (MacCool), who built it as part of a causeway to the Scottish island of Staffa (which has similar rock formations) for motives of either love or war.

Credit : Britannica

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Where is Salar de Uyuni located?

The largest salar (salt flat) in the world, Salar de Uyuni, is located within the Altiplano of Bolivia in South America. The Altiplano is a high plateau formed during uplift of the Andes Mountains. The plateau harbors fresh and saltwater lakes, together with salars, that are surrounded by mountains with no drainage outlets—all at elevations greater than 3,659 meters (12,000 feet) above mean sea level. The Salar de Uyuni covers approximately 8,000 square kilometers (3,100 square miles), and it is a major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano due to its flatness.

The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average elevation variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. The large area, clear skies, and exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar ideal for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites. Following rain, a thin layer of dead calm water transforms the flat into the world's largest mirror, 129 km (80 mi) across.

The Salar serves as the major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano and is a prime breeding ground for several species of flamingos. Salar de Uyuni is also a climatological transitional zone since the towering tropical cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus incus clouds that form in the eastern part of the salt flat during the summer cannot permeate beyond its drier western edges, near the Chilean border and the Atacama Desert.

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Where is Crystal Cave located?

Cave of the Crystals or Giant Crystal Cave (Spanish: Cueva de los cristales) is a cave connected to the Naica Mine at a depth of 300 metres (980 ft), in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico. 

The cave was discovered in April 2000 by brothers Juan and Pedro Sanchez while drilling in the mine. As of October 2015, the mine had reflooded and the cavern filled once more with the water rich in minerals required for the crystals to grow.

A group of scientists in the Naica Project have been studying these caverns.

In 1910, miners discovered a cavern beneath the Naica Mine workings, the Cave of Swords (Spanish: Cueva de las espadas). It is located at a depth of 120 metres (390 ft), above the Cave of the Crystals, and contains spectacular, smaller (1-metre (3 ft 3 in) long) crystals. It is speculated that at this level, transition temperatures may have fallen much more rapidly, leading to an end in the growth of the crystals.

Giant Crystal Cave was discovered in April 2000 by miners excavating a new tunnel for the Industrias Peñoles mining company located in Naica, Mexico, while drilling through the Naica fault, which they were concerned would flood the mine. The mining complex in Naica contains substantial deposits of silver, zinc and lead.

The Cave of Crystals is a horseshoe-shaped cavity in limestone. Its floor is covered with perfectly faceted crystalline blocks. Huge crystal beams jut out from both the blocks and the floor. The crystals deteriorate in air, so the Naica Project attempted to visually document the crystals before they deteriorated further.

Two other smaller caverns were also discovered in 2000, Queen’s Eye Cave and Candles Cave, and another chamber was found in a drilling project in 2009. The new cave, named Ice Palace, is 150 metres (490 ft) deep and is not flooded, but its crystal formations are much smaller, with small "cauliflower" formations and fine, threadlike crystals.

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Where is Darvaza gas crater?

The Darvaza gas crater also known as the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell, is a natural gas field collapsed into a cavern near Darvaza, Turkmenistan.

The gas crater is near the village of Darvaza, also known as Derweze. It is in the middle of the Karakum Desert, about 260 kilometres (160 mi) north of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. The gas reserve found here is one of the largest in the world. The name "Door to Hell" was given to the field by the locals, referring to the fire, boiling mud, and orange flames in the large crater, which has a diameter of 70 metres (230 ft). The hot spots range over an area with a width of 60 metres (200 ft) and to a depth of about 20 metres (66 ft).

The crater was featured in an episode of the National Geographic Channel series Die Trying. In the July 16, 2014, episode "Crater of Fire", explorer George Kourounis became the first person to set foot at the bottom, gathering samples of extremophile microorganisms. An edited photograph of the crater was also released as publicity for the then-upcoming 2014 Godzilla film, with the image depicting MONARCH agents and vehicles investigating the site.

Although the crater has captured public imagination as a mystery and has been named the "Gates of Hell", the crater is a simple geological anomaly; a superficial gas pocket which allowed the ground to sink into a natural depression, allowing the slowly escaping natural gas from a large deeper natural gas field to both accumulate and burn without being extinguished by the wind, or rapidly diluted. The gas from similar, smaller gas leaks in the area is rapidly dispersed by the desert wind. "Burning ground" sites where natural gas escaping from the ground has been ignited are found in other parts of the world.

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Did you know our planet has its own pulse?

When we talk about our pulse, we are referring to the heart rate, or the number of times our heart beats in a minute. When scientists, however, speak about the pulse of the Earth, they aren't referring to its heart beat. Instead, they are talking about a pattern that they have identified.

Cluster of events

For quite some time now, geologists have wondered if there is a cycle of millions of years in the geological record - a cycle that they refer to as the Earth's pulse. A recent study published in June has suggested that this indeed is the case.

Earth's recent history is peppered with major geographical events that have been clustered in 27.5 million year intervals. This means that most of the major geographical events, be it volcanic eruptions or seal level changes, over the past 260 million years have followed this rhythmic pattern on Earth.

To arrive at this figure, the team of researchers delved deep into scientific literature and zeroed in on 89 major geological events that have taken place in the last 260 million years. Apart from sea-level fluctuations and major volcanic activities, these 89 events also included changes in the structuring of the Earth's tectonic plates, extinctions, and oceanic changes as well.

Mathematical analysis

After arranging these events in chronological order, a mathematical tool referred to as Fourier analysis was employed to determine the spikes in the frequency of events. The results showed that most events clustered into 10 separate times that were 27.5 million years apart on average.

While the researchers only looked at events from the last 260 million years during which time dating of such events are accurate, they believe that the Earth's pulse could well extend further back in time as well.

It isn't clear as of now as to what causes this pulse in geological activity on Earth. Reasons suggested include plate tectonics, movements inside the Earth's mantle, and even movements of the Earth in the solar system and the galaxy.

Scientists are hoping to find answers to these. By looking for more data and analysing them, researchers hope to say for certain if the Earth's pulse extends further back in time and also find out what exactly causes geological events to cluster this way.

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