Kondyor Massif, Siberia

Kondyor Massif

The Kondyor Massif is a unique circular igneous intrusion massif with a diameter of around 10 km and about 600 meters high, formed one billion years ago after erosion shaped the molten magma crystallized under the earth’s surface.

Located in Eastern Siberia, Russia, the massif is surprisingly rich in rare and precious minerals such as gold, silver, platinum, plutonium, uranium, and it has even its own mineral, the Konderite, a mixture of platinum, iridium, rhodium, copper, lead and sulfur.

Formerly named “Urgula” by the indigenous population, as they believed the mountain to be sacred, it is more than a thousand km far from the nearest city, Khabarovsk, and definitely not a handy place to be visited. There are no tourist infrastructure and visitors need a special permit to access the surrounding area.

Image © NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Lena Pillars, Russia

Lena Pillars
photo © A. Butorin
The Lena Pillars are a Unesco World Heritage site with stunning rock pinnacles formed in the Cambrian period alongside the river Lena, around 200 kilometers south from the Siberian city of Yakutsk, known as the coldest city in the world.

The pillars are up to 300 meters high and the area is an important archaeological site, with loads of Cambrian fossils and ancient human rock paintings.

Fanjingshan, China

Fanjingshan
photo © Nathan Ackley
 

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Fanjingshan, also known as Mount Fanjing is a stunning mountain area located in the Wuling Mountains, in the Guizhou province of China.

The mountain site is formed by three peaks: the Mushroom Rock (2.318 m), the Old Golden Peak (2.474 m) and the spectacular Red Cloud Golden Peak (2.336 m) on whose top, onto a 100 meters high rock pinnacle, the Mile Temple and the Shijia Temple are connected by a bridge above the rift that splits the peak into two parts. Visitors can reach the two temples by the whole walking trail (8.888 steps, 5-6 hours), or by cable car and a shorter trail of about 2.300 steps.
Fanjingshan is a sacred Buddhist mountain, a pilgrimage destination for thousands of worshipers every year.

The whole Wuling Mountains area has plentiful biodiversity with more than two thousand species of plants and endemic endangered animals like the grey snub-nosed monkey, the Chinese giant salamander and the forest musk deer.

Mount Fanjing can be reached from the city of Tongren by a two hours bus drive and the best period to visit it is from March to November.

For any further information visit the Fanjingshan Official Website.

Impact Craters on Earth

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.

Wikimedia map link

Well preserved impact craters on earth:

Aouelloul crater, Mauritania
3,1 million years old, 390 m diameter, 53 m depth.

Aouellol Crater
Aouelloul crater © Digital Globe – Google Earth

Tenoumer crater, Mauritania
30.000 years old, 1,9 km diameter, 100 m depth.

Tenoumer crater
Tenoumer crater © NASA


The Roter Kamm crater, Namibia
5 million years old, 2,5 km diameter, 130 m depth.

Roter Kamm Crater
The Roter Kamm crater © NASA


Lonar crater lake, India
50.000 years old, 1,2 km diameter, 137 m depth.

Lonar lake
Lonar crater lake © Wikimedia Commons


Monturaqui crater, Chile
One million years old, 460 m diameter, 34 m depth.

Monturaqui crater
Monturaqui crater © Wikimedia Commons


Gosses Bluff crater, Australia
142 million years old, 6 km diameter, 180 m depth.

Gosses Bluff crater
Gosses Bluff crater © Wikimedia Commons


Pingualuit crater, Canada
1,4 million years old, 3,44 km diameter, 270 m depth

Pingualuit crater
Pingualuit crater © NASA


Amguid crater, Algeria
100.000 years old, 450 m diameter, 30 m depth

Amguid crater
Amguid crater © Wikimedia Commons


Wolfe Creek crater, Australia
300.000 years old, 875 m diameter, 25 m depth

Wolfe Creek crater
Wolfe Creek crater © NASA


Barringer crater, USA
40.000 years old, 1,2 km diameter, 170 m depth.

Barringer crater
Barringer crater © James St. John

 

The Rock of Guatapé, Colombia

Also known as Stone of Peñol (since this rock formation is claimed by both the bordering towns of Peñol and Guatapé) the Rock of Guatapé is a granitic monolith located in the Peñol – Guatapé reservoir, about 40 km East of Medellìn.

The rock is 200 meters high and it is surrounded by a magnificent lagoon, which is formed by the hydro-electric dam, built in the 1960-70s.

Visitors can reach the top of the rock climbing up the 650 steps on the stairway, enjoy the stunning view and visit two Benedictine monasteries.

Barrancos de Gebas, Spain

Located in the southeast of Spain, between the city of Murcia and the Sierra Espuña Regional Park, the Barrancos de Gebas is one of the most fascinating landscapes in Spain.

The semi-desert area, reminiscent of the American badlands, has a lunar landscape characterized by spectacular gullies, canyons and the turquoise waters of the Embalse de la Rambla of Algeciras.

Tassili n’Ajjer Nat. Park, Algeria

© hanming_huang / Flickr

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.