Dust devils, small-scale whirlwinds are fascinating natural phenomena which emerge under specific environmental conditions. In regions with exposed, dry ground and intense sunlight, the sun’s rays heat the surface, creating localized pockets of hot air. The heated air rises rapidly, and cooler air rushes in to fill the void, initiating a rotating motion. The Coriolis effect, influenced by the Earth’s rotation, further shapes the vortex into its characteristic spiral pattern.
Dust devils commonly appear as relatively small and mild phenomena, often measuring less than 2 meters in diameter and featuring average wind speeds of around 45 miles per hour (70 km/h). Typically, they dissipate swiftly, within a minute of forming. Nevertheless, exceptional occurrences have been observed, where dust devils grow remarkably large and intense. In such instances, they can reach diameters of up to 100 meters and exhibit wind speeds exceeding 75 mph (120 km/h). Some of these powerful dust devils persist for as long as 20 minutes before finally subsiding.
Dust devils are frequent visitors to arid and semi-arid regions across the world. They commonly appear in deserts, dry lake beds, and open fields during warmer months.
We captured some devils in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. This region is renowned for showcasing these mesmerizing formations amidst its vast savannahs. Here, the unique landscape and weather conditions offer a perfect stage for the graceful dance of dust devils.
Interestingly, dust devils are not exclusive to our planet. These intriguing phenomena have also been observed on the surface of Mars. Mars, known for its thin atmosphere and vast desert-like landscapes, provides the ideal conditions for the formation of dust devils. These Martian dust devils have been discovered from data reported by NASA’s Viking probes, revealing their striking similarity to their Earthly counterparts. The study of dust devils on Mars provides valuable insights into the atmospheric dynamics and weather patterns on the Red Planet.
Within the realm of dust devils lies a rare and captivating variation – the fire devil. Unlike its more common counterpart, the fire devil forms over an active fire or smoldering hot spot. As a wildfire blazes, the intense heat warms the surrounding air near the ground, causing it to rise and create a low-pressure area. Cooler air then converges, initiating a rotating motion that forms the fire devil. This extraordinary whirlwind blends the power of fire with the grace of a dust devil, creating a breathtaking yet concerning sight.
Apart from dust devils and fire devils, there are several other intriguing variations of vortex phenomena in nature. For example, “hay devils” form in the warm air above freshly-cut hay fields, gently swirling stalks and clumps of hay harmlessly through the air. “Snow devils” can occur in snow-covered areas, and “steam devils” can be observed in the steam rising from power plants or over warm bodies of water.
Less famous than the Egyptian pyramids but not less fascinating, those burial monuments belong to the ancient kingdom of Kush, a rival to Egyptian settled from 2500 BC in the Nubian Valley (modern Sudan) to AD 350, when the kingdom of Axum invaded and conquered the capital Meroë and ended the Kushite dominance.
Compared to the Egyptians, they are more recent (built a thousand years after), smaller (the highest is less than 30 meters, Giza’s is 139 meters), and with steeper sides. There are around 200 pyramids in the Nubian Valley, more than in Egypt.
Meroë, located 240 kilometers north of Khartoum, is the biggest and best-preserved sacred area, where 30 kings, eight queens, and three princes are buried.
Although relatively unknown (the last group of pyramids was discovered between 2009 and 2012), the Nubian pyramids are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.
Also known as Al-Ḥijr or Hegra, this impressive archaeological site belonged in the first century AD to the kingdom of Nabatean, a nomadic Bedouin tribe of the northern Arabian peninsula, whose capital was Raqmu, now known as the famous Petra (Jordan).
According to the Quran, it is believed that this is a cursed place, owing to the punishment with natural disasters given from Allah to the Thamud people (8th century BCE) for their idol worshipping.
The outstanding location consists of 131 rock-cut monumental tombs and was the first Arabian proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
The site is reachable by car from the nearest towns with flight connections: al-Wajh (100 km) and al-Ula (20 km).
All visitors need a permit to visit Mada’in Saleh (you can easily obtain the permission in the Hotels near the site).
Impact craters on earth are difficult to preserve due to the continuous remodeling of the earth’s crust by orogenesis, plate tectonics and atmospheric agents.
There are around 180 recognizable impact craters on earth, of which about 60 are now buried under sediments, a considerably lower number, for example, compared to the 360.000 craters on Mars or the 7.000 on the moon. This thanks to the shield made by the earth’s dense atmosphere.
Some of them have caused catastrophes, such as the meteorite that carved the Chicxulub crater in Mexico: according to the theory currently accepted by the scientific community postulated by the physicist Luis Álvarez and his son geologist Walter Álvarez, is widely thought to have caused 65 million years ago the end of the dinosaurs due to a tsunami and dust emissions which totally covered the earth’s surface a cloud of dust for many years.
Others have instead brought wealth as the Popigai crater in Russia, whose impact transformed graphite into diamonds within about 13 km radius.
List of the biggest impact craters on earth:
1. Vredefort Dome, South Africa: 160 km diameter, 2.02 billion years old. 2. Chicxulub crater, Mexico: 150 km diameter, 65 million years old. 3. Sudbury crater, Canada: 130 km diameter, 1.85 billion years old. 4. Popigai crater, Russia: 100 km diameter, 35 million years old. 5. Manicouagan crater, Canada: 100 km diameter, 214 million years old. 6. Acraman crater, Australia: 90 km diameter, 580 million years old. 7. Chesapeake Bay crater, USA: 85 km diameter, 35 million years old. 8. Morokweng crater, South Africa: 70 km diameter, 145 million years old. 9. Kara crater, Russia: 65 km diameter, 70 million years old. 10. Beaverhead crater, USA: 60 km diameter, 600 million years old.
The Sahara el Beyda, well known as the White Desert, is one of the most spectacular deserts in the world. Its chalk rock formations, after millions of years of wind and sand erosion, have bizarre shapes like, for example, the rock named “The chicken and the mushroom”.
The area is a National Park located about 50 km North of the town of Farafra, Egypt.
The desert was also the location of the music video of the song Echoes, the first single released by the British rock band Klaxons, from their second studio album, Surfing the Void.
Unfortunately, due to the armies and Islamist militant presence, the area is not safe, though local agencies organize trips for tourists.
The Tassili n’Ajjer National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, is an outstanding plateau of about 70.000 km² composed mostly of black and red sandstone that, due to the erosion, has spectacular shapes of canyons, natural rock arches and volcanic ridges.
The National Park, located in the south-eastern area of Algeria at the borders of Mali, Niger and Libya, reachable from the town of Djanet, is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, with a well-preserved collection of remains and over 15,000 rock engravings and drawings dating back to the Neolithic era.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.