Strange Phenomena

Kara Meyer

The Earth is full of naturally occurring phenomena. On August 21 of 2017, for example, a total solar eclipse passed over the United States. While some phenomena are common and more accessible, like an eclipse, others occur in the strangest places at the strangest times. These phenomena defy belief and scientific explanation but are beautifully formed by nature.

One of these phenomena occurs all of the way in Antarctica, making it difficult to view by the average person. In Antarctica, there is a glacier called Taylor Glacier. A waterfall flows from this glacier, but this waterfall is not like any other in the world. The water is blood red! At first, it seemed that the water was filled with algae that discolored the water. Although, after extensive research, it was evident that the color was due to oxidized iron in brine saltwater. As a visual, this is similar to the process that causes iron to rust.

The next phenomena is more common, and extremely popular. Even if you have not seen it in person, you have heard of, or seen depictions of, the Polar Lights. These Polar Lights are also known as Auroras. Because it occurs in a multitude of places, the Auroras are more accessible to tourist. You can see this phenomena in areas such as Alaska, Denmark, and Canada, all remotely close to us. Although, the best area to view the Polar Lights is near the North of South Pole, giving the occurrence its nickname. Green, blue, yellow, red, and violet colors in patches and rays of light fill the sky in these places. When the sun releases charged particles that collide the Earth’s gaseous particles, they create this light show.

We have all experienced the occasional thunderstorm but the storm in Venezuela never ends. Where the Catatumbo River drains into Lake Maracaibo, 28 bolts of lightning strike down every minute. This phenomena occurs 10 hours a night, 260 nights a year. It has been known to cease from droughts, like in 2010 when the storm subsided from January to February. Aside from that, the storm rages on continuously, making it the most lightning struck place on Earth.  Scientist can not determine what causes this phenomenon. It is thought to be a result of its location. Warm winds coming from the Caribbean Sea mix with cool air from the Andes, resulting in thunderstorms. The lightning can sometimes be seen from 400 km away, making this phenomena a common tourist attraction.

Rocks, known for being quiet and motionless, move across the Earth in Death Valley-- a desert in east California. This phenomena causes rocks up to 700 pounds to be set in motion across the desert floor. These rocks are known as “sailing stones”. However, they are not “sailing”, as one might assume. They move a few inches per second. While they may be sluggish, hundreds of rocks can be transported at once. They also leave ruts in the desert floor behind them, indicating motion. Trails have gotten as long as 1,500 feet! A possible explanation for this occurrence is, when rain falls and freezes, the ice is very thin and broken. The wind piles the ice behinds the stones, making them move. As Death Valley is a national park, it is easy to take a trip and see this phenomenon.

The beautiful phenomena that occur on this Earth are almost too good to be true. While some may be inaccessible to humans, others can be displayed for all to see. Scientist cannot explain some of them but they are still wonderful examples of how the Earth creates marvelous shows.