The forgotten Benbulben Barite Mines – Ireland

In a beautiful and remote area of Ireland are the remains of Benbulben Barite Mine. The once industrious mine was used to unearth barite ore, a naturally occurring mineral used in cement as an aggregate, or ground down and used as a filler or extender. It’s an agent in the sugar refining process, a white pigment in paint and paper, and used as a weighting agent in oil and gas exploration mining, among many other industrial-type things. Due its chemical stability it can be used to give added value to…

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Pozzo del Diavolo: was this cave created by Hercules’s wrath, the devil, or volcanic activity?

We are in Italy, in Lazio region, above Vico Lake in the beautiful beech forest of Monte Venere, part of the UNESCO’s Primeval Beech Forests of Europe transnational network of protected sites. At 507 meters above sea level, Lake Vico is the highest volcanic lake in Italy and the beech forest of Monte Venere is among the lowest in the country (most beech forests are located above 900 meters). Thanks to its peculiar natural characteristics, the lake offers a rich variety of plant species and different environments, allowing the life…

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Dinosaur footprints at the Isle of Skye – Scotland

We are in the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Here there are lot of icons of the past, as ruined castles that are hundreds of years old stand atop an unusual topography shaped by glaciers during the last Ice Age, or the pictoresque Old Man of Storr, said to be the gravesite of an ancient giant. The island, famous for its dramatic landscapes, was recently voted the most desirable place in Britain to live. But the land holds traces of an even more ancient past as well. It seems that dinosaurs…

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Fingal’s Cave, the “Cave of Melody” in Scotland

Usually you not hear, in the same sentence, names like Queen Victoria, Matthew Barney, Jules Verne, and Pink Floyd but, strangely enough, there is a place that they all share. We are on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Known as Fingal’s Cave, it bears a history and geology unlike any other cave in the world. At 22 meters tall and 82 meters deep, what makes this sea cave so visually astoundingly is the hexagonal columns of basalt, shaped in neat six-sided pillars that make…

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The spectacular Neskowin Ghost Forest in Oregon

In the small coastal town of Neskowin in Tillamook County in Oregon, somewhere between Lincoln City and Pacific City lie the remains of an ancient forest, rising out of the sand and seawater. Dubbed the Neskowin Ghost Forest, they are an eerily beautiful memory of the towering Sitka spruce trees that stood here for some two millennia. For nearly 300 years the “phantom forest” strains remained hidden under the sand, resting until they were uncovered during the winter of 1997-1998, when the coast of Oregon was pummeled by powerful storms…

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St. Jacob’s Well – Kansas, between sightless fish and a ghostly cowboy~

St. Jacob’s Well is a water-filled sinkhole in the Big Basin Prairie Reserve just south of Minneola, Kansas. The Big Basin Prairie Preserve is 1,818 acres of native mixed grass prairie managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. According to the legend, St.Jacob’s well it has never been empty, not even in the driest seasons. But that’s just one of the many popular stories about this mysterious body of water. One local story, that has been whispered through the century, is that the well is actually bottomless, or…

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Adam’s bridge: the island chain in Sri Lanka created by a god with an army of monkeys.

We are in Sri Lanka. This island nation is separated from southeastern India by the Palk Strait, a 40-mile-wide stretch of sea named for Robert Palk, a governor of Madras in British India. Yes. Sri Lanka is an island, or at least that’s what they want you to think. The 18-mile gap (about 29 kilometers) between it and India is filled with shoals and sandbanks, that religious tradition holds are the remains of a bridge built by Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, the same character who ordered to build a…

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A new lava island was born to Hawaii, but only for a few days.

Hawaii’s ongoing eruption created new land, but only for a few days… Last week, a small new island was born. Yes, a real island, surrounded by water and smaller than a continent, and emerged just a few meters off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, formed by the lava that’s been flowing from Kīlauea since May. All beautiful, but a few days later, the small island had already transformed, and on Monday, July 16, it had become an isthmus. The island formed near the northern end of the area where…

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