Gaet’ale Pond: the Earth’s saltiest natural body of water that belches toxic gas.

The Afar Depression in northern Ethiopia is one of the most tectonically active regions in the world. Shaped by volcanic activity, the floor of the depression is largely composed of lava, and the area is riddled with charming natural formations that literally bake in the scorching sun. One of these is Gaet’ale Pond, the largest of a series of small bodies of water, located near the Dallol crater in Danakil Depression, one of the hottest inhabited locations on Earth. But, despite its balmy temperature, it is certainly not the place…

Read More

Te Wairoa Buried Village: a Maori village obliterated by an 1886 volcanic eruption.

Located 24 kilometres south-east of Rotorua, Tarawera is a curious-looking mountain, with several large domes and a broad, flat top. This distinctive profile formed during eruptions around 1314 AD. However, early Māori and the Europeans who arrived in the 1800s did not realise that it was an active volcano and, in June 1886, it came to life in a violent one-day eruption – the deadliest in the history of New Zealand settlement. When Mount Tarawera erupted, the surrounding countryside was completely remade. The eruption killed over 100 people and created…

Read More

Vulcanalia: appeasing the God of fire

In ancient Rome, Vulcan (or Volcanus) was well known as the god of fire, both beneficial and hindering fire, particularly in its destructive aspects as volcanoes. Similar to the Greek Hephaestus, he was a god of the forge, and renowned for his metalworking skills, and he is portrayed as being lame. He was patron also of those occupations having to do with ovens such as cooks, bakers, pastry makers and pizza makers. Vulcan is one of the oldest of the Roman gods, and his origins can be traced back to…

Read More

The “Ice volcano” that becomes a very nice attraction in Kazakhstan

Probably the steppes of Kazakhstan’s Almaty region are not the most inviting place to visit, especially in winter time, but there is one unusual phenomenon that has been attracting a lot of tourists in the area.Located between the villages of Kegen and Shyrganak in the middle of a snow-covered plateau is a 14-meter-high ice tower that continuously spouts water which turns to ice almost instantly.The unique structure, four hours away from the Kazakh capital city of Nur-Sultan, formerly Astana, looks like a miniature volcano, however, instead of hot lava, it…

Read More

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…

Read More

Krakatoa: the story of the world’s mightiest explosion

The biggest explosion the world has ever known (try to imagine: an estimated 13,000 times greater than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima during WWII) happened on this day, August 27 1883, as eruptions of the Krakatoa volcano reached their peak. To understand, the noise of the explosion was heard 3,000 miles (4,800km) away, five cubic miles (21 km^3) of rock and ash were projected 50 miles (80.5km) into the air, while 36.5m tsunamis were created and 36,000 people lost their lives. The island of Krakatoa (originally Krakatau) featured three linked…

Read More

536 AD: the never-ending winter of the worst year in history

If you ask medieval historian Michael McCormick of the University of Harvard what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer. Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe, and not 1918, when “spanish” flu killed 50 million to 100 million people. It happened to everyone, sooner or later, to hope that a particularly difficult year will come to an end, hoping that the next one will reserve better days. But what was, objectively, the worst year in human history? It seems impossible…

Read More

New Mexico: a view from Cabezon Peak~

With an elevation of nearly 2500 meters, Cabezon Peak is the largest of over 50 volcanic formations that dot the otherwise barren and otherworldly desert shrubland of the Rio Puerco Valley, in New Mexico. It is a steep-sided and symmetrical basalt volcanic plug that formed during the eruptions of the Mount Taylor volcanic field millions of years ago. The basalt monolith is one of the most prominent landmarks in northwestern New Mexico, dominating the landscape. This area badlands, canyons, and a diverse flora and fauna, and It is also here…

Read More

Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl: the Tragic Legend of the Aztec Lovers who turned into Volcanoes.

Myths and legends of every people of the earth are closely linked to the territory in which they are born. So it was also for the Mayans and the Aztecs who lived in Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. In this zone, two of the many volcanoes of that land rich in history have become symbols of a tragic love story. Volcanoes were very important to the Aztecs: in their pantheon, the deity that represented them was Xiuhtecuhtli, the god of the day, of heat and fire, the…

Read More