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 remodelling 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.