Five Fascinating Natural Wonders


By Mary Rose Thomas-Glaser

The Earth is an amazing planet filled with incredible natural phenomena from mountain top to ocean bottom. Here’s a peek at five astounding marvels from around the globe.

Blood Falls, Antarctica

Blood Falls creates an eerie image as crimson water stains the snowy face of Taylor glacier. The source of this aqueous mystery is the super salty, iron-rich anaerobic water trapped 400 meters below the glacier that feeds a lake atop it. As water spills from the lake, iron in the water rusts creating the “blood” trail as it flows down the glacier.

Surtsey, Iceland

This one-square mile volcanic island appeared off the Icelandic coast, following a series of underwater volcanic eruptions from 1963 to 1967. Since its birth, the island has been protected, and no one is permitted to go ashore. The island serves as a pristine natural laboratory for scientists to observe the plant and animal colonization process.

Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand

Koekohe Beach provides a chance for visitors to view prehistoric geological wonders, formed up to 65 million years ago. Huge spherical boulders measuring up to 12 feet in circumference formed on ancient sea floors by gradual precipitation of calcite in mudstone — created much like a pearl. Eventually the mudstone was raised from the seabed into cliffs, and over the millennia wind, rain and waves exposed the boulders encased in the mudstone, a weathering process that continues today.

Pamukkale, Turkey

Over thousands of years, mineral-rich waters from natural hot springs on a cliff overlooking the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis (modern day Pamukkale) have flowed over travertine terraces on the hillside. The water deposited calcium carbonate to create a strikingly beautiful landscape of ghostly waterfalls known as the “cotton castle.” Millions visit these naturally heated basins to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the 96°F mineral springs.

Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park, New York

In a chamber tucked behind a small waterfall in New York’s Shale Creek Preserve at Chestnut Ridge Park burns the “eternal flame.” Rumored to have been lit hundreds of years ago by Native Americans, the flame is fueled by a macro seep that spews methane gas from the shale below. This seep also features the world’s highest concentrations of ethane and propane.

Classroom Discussion

  • What causes iron rust?
  • Are there any active underwater volcanoes today and where are they located?
  • What health benefits are associated with mineral-rich waters in natural springs?
  • What other unique geologic formations are formed by calcium carbonate deposits?
  • How is methane gas formed underground?


  • Anaerobic
  • Macro Seeps
  • Colonization
  • Calcite