The Beauty of Lava.
The floor is lava.
Daredevil water skiers ride a foamy wake through a rock tunnel off St. George’s Bay, Beirut, Lebanon, April 1958.Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic
A wave of rock shaped by wind and rain towers above a plain in Western Australia, September 1963.
Photograph by Robert B. Goodman, National Geographic
Tourists explore eroded clay rock formations in Nevada, 1946.
Photograph by W. Robert Moore, National Geographic
A young couple peers over the edge of Hopi Point into the Grand Canyon, May 1955.
Photograph by Justin Locke, National Geographic
Luray Cavern’s cave pool has become a wishing well where visitors toss in coins, Virginia, June 1974.
Photograph by David Boyer, National Geographic
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Zhangye Danxia - Geology From a Storybook
Long ago, colorful sediments were deposited in western China, layer after layer, century after century. If you were there at the time, you would have seen unremarkable ground, a single hue of dirt no different from a thousand other places on Earth.
But after thousands and thousands of years subject to the forces of pressure and tectonic movement, the total of those layers has been pushed upward, letting us peek at a rainbow-hued slice of Earth’s past perhaps unmatched on this planet. The planet looks more like the cross-section of a jawbreaker candy than layers of rock in these photos, near Zhangye, China.
The Zhangye formation, not to be confused with this danxia, a UNESCO heritage site, reminds us how our crust is heaved and hurled throughout the ages, a slow evolution that will continue into the distant future. It’s yet another story of Earth’s past, written in stone, but perhaps with the same pen as a fantasy storybook.