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Earth's Weirdest Landscapes

10 otherworldly destinations for your bucket list

Text by Melissa Pandika

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Although a trip to Mars remains a distant possibility for most of us, why voyage to the heavens when our own blue planet teems with otherworldly wonders? These breathtakingly surreal landscapes inspire our imagination and curiosity. And the "alien" creatures that inhabit them seem to defy nature itself, surviving and even flourishing in extreme conditions. With just the right mixture of minerals, microorganisms, temperatures, and of course, time, even regular old Earth is capable of some far-out creations.

Spewing scalding water in all directions, the aptly named Fly Geyser sits about 10 miles from the site of Burning Man, the annual counterculture art festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. This geological curiosity was formed accidentally in 1916, when ranch owners drilled a well in the area. They hit water, all right—too bad it measured a piping 200 degrees. The drilling crew plugged the well, but the geothermal water seeped through, leaving behind calcium carbonate deposits that continue to accumulate, forming a 12-foot-high bulbous mound resembling a scoop of rainbow sherbet.

In 1964, a crew drilled a second hole near the first, and once again found hot water, which this time erupted from multiple spots. The tie-dye stains dripping down Fly Geyer's surface are actually thermophilic algae, which thrive in hot, moist environments. Fly Geyser is off-limits to the public, but a Burning Man project director hopes to purchase its ranch land location to develop into an art park and idea incubator, mainly for the development of green technologies.


 


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