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These 7 Mysterious Geological Formations Still Baffle Scientists

BENNYMARTY/ISTOCK VIA GETTY IMAGES

It’s widely known that Earth is a diverse place with astonishing geological structures. At the same time, it’s full of mysteries. Throughout the years, scientists have managed to solve some of them. However, some of the Earth’s formations still remain a mystery.

The list below includes 7 geological structures that still baffle scientists.

1. THE EYE OF THE SAHARA // MAURITANIA

ISS CREW EARTH OBSERVATIONS FACILITY AND EARTH SCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING UNIT, JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, NASA // PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Eye of the Sahara is differently known as the Richat Structure. It’s a 28-mile-wide site of huge concentric circles in the western African nation of Mauritania. At first, it was believed that an asteroid impact created the site, but this theory isn’t fully supported as there’s not enough melted rock there.

Now, geologists believe that the site can be an eroded, collapsed geological dome which was formed when the supercontinent Pangea broke up around 100 million years ago. However, research is still continuing as there’s not anything known for sure.

2. LAKE HILLIER // AUSTRALIA

KURIOZITETI123, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS // CC BY-SA 4.0

The Lake Hillier, located on an island off Western Australia, has a length of only 1/3 of a mile. What makes it absolutely unique is its bubblegum-pink color, something that explorers of the past didn’t understand why it was like that.

Now, it is suspected that the presence of a pink algaDunaliella salina, and/or a pink bacteriumSalinibacter ruber give the lake this color. You can visit lake Hillier by helicopter or even go for a swim there as it’s absolutely safe to do.

3. THE GREAT UNCONFORMITY // UNITED STATES

ALEX DEMAS, USGS // PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Great Unconformity is a huge gap where layers of rock dating from about 1.2 billion to 250 million years ago are completely missing from certain areas around the globe. This can be better seen in the stratigraphy of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The “Snowball Earth” theory suggests that the layers of rock were pushed into the oceans and were then reabsorbed there by subducting tectonic plates.

4. NASTAPOKA ARC // CANADA

JEFF SCHMALTZ, MODIS LAND RAPID RESPONSE TEAM, NASA GSFC, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS // PUBLIC DOMAIN

A near-perfect arc lies in the southeast corner of Hudson Bay, Canada. This arc is known to be the Hudson Bay Arc. At first, it was thought to be an impact crater from a meteorite. But there wasn’t enough evidence to prove this theory. So, another theory was formed in the 1970s that suggests that the arc was formed when one shelf of rock was pushed under another one.

5. MIMA MOUNDS // UNITED STATES

ZRFPHOTO/ISTOCK VIA GETTY IMAGES

The Mima Mounds are mysterious, uniform undulations in the grasslands of Washington State. They range from 10 to 164 feet in diameter and up to 6.5 feet tall. The American explorer Charles Wilkes believed they were human-made burial mounds back then in 1841. However, once he excavated three of them, he saw that they were filled with loose stones.

Now, investigations still go on to find out exactly what they are.

6. FAIRY CIRCLES // NAMIBIA

DEMERZEL21/ISTOCK VIA GETTY IMAGES

The fairy circles are located in the Namib Desert. They are circular patches of bare red earth, surrounded by tufts of grass. When you see them from the sky, they seem to create a regular polka-dot pattern, which is claimed to be the gods’ footprints by local folktales.

In 2017, a theory suggested that the circles were created by the termites eating the vegetation above their territory. That allowed desert grasses to flourish between the nests only. Excavations support this theory, but further research is needed as well.

7. YAMAL CRATERS // RUSSIA

JESSE ALLEN, EARTH OBSERVATORY, NASA // PUBLIC DOMAIN

Just over the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, which juts into the Kara Sea, there’s an enormous hole in the permafrost. At first, three were the options that were considered as its origin: a meteorite impact, a natural gas explosion, or alien interference

Now, further research is made to fully understand what happened prior to its creation.

HT: Mental Floss

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Written by Ketrin Ulbrich

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