A whopping 71% of the world’s surface is covered in water, and the oceans hold about 96% of that water. Water is an incredible force that is key to the survival of humans, animals, plants, and basically the entire planet.
There are some bodies of water in the world that are magnificent, some that are scary or dangerous, and some that are still a little bit mysterious.
Blood Falls, Antarctica
Despite its name, Blood Falls doesn’t actually have any blood in it at all. It’s an iron oxide tainted plume that flows out of the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica. It was originally discovered in 1911 by Griffith Taylor, whom the Glacier is named after. When it was originally discovered, it was thought that the red run-off might have been from algae.
Pamukkale, also known as Cotton Castle, is a beautiful and naturally occurring wonder. Stacked flats on top of one another hold pools of warm, mineral-rich water. The water is heated deep in the earth by volcanic lava. It becomes saturated with calcium as it flows from the earth, down the hillside into the pools, drying and leaving behind the calcium cascades.
It’s no surprise that thousands of years ago, Romans built the city of Hierapolis so that their people could bask in the health benefits of the water.
Maybe keep a safe distance instead of literally diving into Dallol. Dallol looks like it doesn’t even come from planet earth. It’s a hydrothermal system created by the Erta Ale basaltic volcanic range, which means it’s pretty hot and acidic. The age of the hydrothermal system is unknown. The springs are highly dynamic, going through dormant periods with new springs emerging in different places. The otherworldly colors are caused by iron and inorganic oxidization.
Boiling Lake, Dominica
Through a thick cloud of vapor, you will the grayish waters of the Boiling Lake, located on the island of Dominica. It is a flooded fumarole, which usually occurs at the bottom of volcanoes. It’s not necessarily a safe place to visit because of gases and vapors escaping from the water, which is heated to the boiling point by magma not far under the surface. Sprays of steam would be hot enough to burn you if they made contact.
Lake Hillier, Western Australia
Lake Hillier is a saline lake located in Western Australia. It is thought that the water has its beautiful pink color because of the presence of Dunaliella salina, a type of microalgae. The color of the water is permanent, and it doesn’t change if you take it out and put it in a bottle or cup.
Horsetail Falls, California
Horsetail Falls is a seasonal waterfall that flows at the start of winter and the start of spring. It’s positioned in such a way that when the weather is clear, the sun hits the falls and makes it glow orange, giving it a fiery appearance.
The Rio Tinto, Spain
The Rio Tinto is a river that flows through southwestern Spain. It’s best known for its rusty red and yellow colors. The red colors only show up for about a 50 kilometer stretch of the river where there is an especially high concentration of heavy metals and iron. This unique color and its high acidity stem from the 5,000 years of ore mining that has happened along the river.
Spotted Lake, British Columbia
Spotted Lake is a weird-looking body of water. In the lake, there are huge concentrations of calcium, magnesium sulfate, and sodium sulfates. In the summer, the water in the lake evaporates, for the most part, leaving small pools and dots that are the color of the minerals inside those deposits.
Thor’s Well, Oregon
Thor’s Well is what seems to be an endless well of water on the coast of Cape Perpetua. It’s a hole that appears to suck up ocean water, but according to researchers, it’s more likely to be a cave that once existed until the top of it caved in. It got its name because, during high tide or particularly vicious storms, a large surge of water will blast out of the well.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
Lake Natron is a salt lake in Africa. While it is a spot that flamingos love to flock to, it also has a more dangerous side. The water is so caustic it can burn the skin of any animal that isn’t adapted to deal with those types of environment.
La Jonction, Switzerland
La Jonction is a special spot in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s the spot where two rivers, the Rhône and the Arve meet. The waters don’t quite blend well because their pH and composition are so different that they just kind of sit side by side.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole is a marine sinkhole that sits near the center of Lighthouse Reef in Belize. It’s a whopping 407 feet deep. It was created during several episodes of quaternary glaciation when sea levels were much lower than they are now.
Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. It was created by the transformation between various prehistoric lakes. The salt flat is covered in pools of brine, which has an exceptionally high amount of lithium. If it rains, the entire salt flat can be seen covered in perfectly still water that acts like a sort of mirror.
Cenote Angelita, Mexico
What is cooler than a river? A river that flows under the water. Cenote Angelita is a river that runs along the bottom of the ocean in Mexico. When limestone bedrock collapses under the water, it creates a reservoir that fills up with fresh water from the ground. When organic matter decomposes in the trench, it releases a cloud of hydrogen sulfide that separates the freshwater from the saltwater.
Grüner See, Austria
Grüner See is an interesting lake as it isn’t there all year round. The lake is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. During the spring, when it’s raining and everything is melting, the area around the lakes becomes engulfed in beautiful green water, creating an eerie underwater park.
Dead Sea, Israel/Jordan
The surface and shores of the Dead Sea sit at 1,412 feet below sea level, making it Earth’s lowest elevation on land. But that’s not the only record it holds. It’s also the world’s largest hypersaline lake. The dense saltiness of the water has long been drawing people to visit it. In fact, it was the home of one of the first health spas in the world.
Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona
Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River. It was created in 1963 after the creation of the Glen Canyon Dam. Lake Powell was created to hold the massive amounts of water that accumulate from the snow that comes down the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Horseshoe Lake, California
Horseshoe Lake in California is a beautiful sight to see, but it does come with a deadly cost. A persistent swarm of earthquakes in the late 1980s created a large build-up of carbon dioxide that started seeping out from beneath the volcano. The constant stream of gas has killed most of the vegetation around that part of the lake and can be dangerous to humans if they spend too much time in it.
Lake Nyos, Cameroon
Lake Nyos may look unassuming, but it’s responsible for one of the worst limnic eruptions in history. A limnic eruption is a very rare natural disaster where dissolved carbon dioxide suddenly erupts from deep within a lake. These often create clouds of CO2 capable of suffocating the people and wildlife in the area, which is what happened when Lake Nyos erupted in 1986.
Kelimutu Crater Lakes, Indonesia
The Kelimutu Craters sit at the bottom of a volcano. Each small lake has its own chemical composition that’s different from the others around it, which makes for an interesting effect. Over time, adjustments in oxidation-reduction take place, which changes the amounts of the present metals, thus changing the colors.