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11 Magnificent Wonders of the Ice World

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In polar and other cold regions there are ice, snow and water formations that are unusual, unique, and some of them so beautiful they take your breath away. Most of these wonders of nature can be visited only by scientists and rare adventurers who are ready for significant physical and financial exertions. Because of their volatility and locations, these formations can be seen only at certain periods of the year.

1. Blue River, Greenland

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This river is a kayaking heaven in Greenland. The melting Petermann Glacier fill up the low lying areas with stunning blue water.

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The filling pattern changes seasonally causing the river to change its shape. The vibrant blue color comes from glacial silt. [linkmap]

2. Glacier Waterfalls in Svalbard, Norway

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Svalbard, which means «cold coasts», is an archipelago in the Arctic, constituting the northernmost part of Norway as well as of Europe. It is located about 400 miles (650 km) north of mainland Europe, midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Despite being so close to the North Pole, Svalbard is comparatively warm, thanks to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream, which makes it habitable. In fact, Svalbard is the northernmost permanently inhabited region on the planet.

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Svalbard islands cover a total area of 62,050 sq km (24,000 sq mi), nearly 60% of which is covered by glacier with many outlet glaciers terminating in the sea. The giant glacier Bråsvellbreen, located on Nordaustlandet the second largest island in the archipelago, stretches out for 200 kilometres (125 mi). The 15-20-metre (50-65 ft) high ice edge of this glacier is intersected by hundreds of melt-waterfalls. These waterfalls can be seen only in the warmer months. [linkmap]

3. Crystal Cave, Iceland

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This cave in the glacier ice is the result of glacial mill, or Moulin where rain and melt water on the glacier surface are channeled into streams that enter the glacier at crevices. The waterfall melts a hole into the glacier while the ponded water drains towards lower elevations by forming long ice caves with an outlet at the terminus of the glacier.

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The fine grained sediments in the water along with wind blown sediments cause the frozen meltwater stream to appear in a muddy colour while the top of the cave exhibits the deep blue colour. Due to the fast movement of the glacier of about 1 m (3 ft) per day over uneven terrain, this ice cave cracked up at its end into a deep vertical crevice, called cerrac. This causes the indirect daylight to enter the ice cave from both ends resulting in homogeneous lighting of the ice tunnel.

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The cave is accessible through a 22-foot (7 m) entrance on the shoreline. At the end it tapers to a tight squeeze no more than four feet high (1,2 m). Ice caves are in general unstable things and can collapse at any time. They are safe to enter only in winter when the cold temperatures harden the ice. Even so one could hear constant cracking sounds inside the cave. It was not because it was going to collapse but because the cave was moving along with the glacier itself. Each time the glacier moved a millimeter loud sounds could be heard. [linkmap]

4. Briksdal Glacier, Norway

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Briksdalsbreen or Briksdal glacier is one of the most accessible and best known arms of the Jostedalsbreen glacier. It is located in Norway and is part of Jostedalsbreen National Park. Briksdalsbreen terminates in a small glacial lake, Briksdalsbrevatnet, which lies 346 metres (1,135 ft) above sea level.

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Visitors from all over the world come to see the beautiful Briksdalsbreen glacier outlet, so beautifully situated amid waterfalls and high peaks.

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With proper equipment and expert glacier guides, visitors can be part of an absolutely safe but incredibly exciting trip over the thousands of years old ice masses. [link1link2map]

5. Birthday Canyon, Greenland

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Birthday Canyon, carved by meltwater, is 150 feet (45 m) deep. This photo was taken in 2008. Along the edge of the canyon, lines on the wall show the stratigraphic layers of ice and snow laid down over the years.

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EIS field assistant, Adam LeWinter stands on the NE rim of Birthday Canyon, atop feature called “Moab”. Black deposit in bottom of channel is cryoconite – powdery windblown dust which is deposited and builds up on snow, glaciers, or icecaps. [link]

6. Elephant-Foot Glacier, Greenland

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The Arctic Elephant-Foot Glacier found in northern Greenland. The grey zone at low elevation on the glacier is the ablation zone incised by meltwater channels, clearly separated from the white surface accumulation zone higher up.

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This unique glacier is located at an astonishing geographical location on the north-east coast of Greenland (81° N). [link, map]

7. Frozen Wave, Antarctica

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This unique frozen wave is located in Antarctica. It was discovered by american scientist Tony Travouillon in 2007.

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These pictures do not show a giant wave somehow snap-frozen in the very act of breaking. The formation contains blue ice, and this is compelling evidence that it was not created instantly from a wave of water.

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Blue ice is created as the ice is compressed and trapped air bubbles are squeezed out. The ice looks blue because, when light passes through thick ice, blue light is transmitted back out but red light is absorbed.

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Thus, the deep blue colour suggests that the ice in the formation was built up slowly over time rather than formed instantly. Subsequent melting and refreezing over many seasons has given the formation its smooth, wave-like appearance. [link]

8. Striped Icebergs, Southern Ocean

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Most often icebergs have blue and green stripes, but may be brown. This phenomenon often occurs in the Southern Ocean. Striped icebergs with multiple color bands, including yellow, brown, black and blue, are quite common in the cold waters around Antarctica. Icebergs are formed when large chunks of ice break off from the ice shelf and fall into the sea.

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Because glaciers are composed of snow falling on Antarctica for millennia, the ice is made up of fresh water. Thus it turns out that the floating fresh ice interacts with salt water. Sea water is in contact with supercooled glacier also freezes, as if covering it with a crust. This top layer of ice formed from sea water contains organic matter and minerals. Lapped by the waves, and blown by the wind, icebergs can be painted with amazing color bands of different shapes and textures.

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Iceberg appears white because of the tiny bubbles trapped in the ice and the light-scattering. Blue bars are created when a crack in the ice shield filled with melt water, which quickly freezes. In this case, the bubbles do not have time to form. When the water is rich in algae, the strip can be colored green, as well as in other shades. [link]

9. Ice Towers of Mount Erebus, Antarctica

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Hundreds of ice towers stud the flanks of 12,500ft. (3.800 m) high Mount Erebus like day-old stubble on the face of a giant. The constantly active volcano is perhaps the only place in Antarctica where fire and ice meet, mingle and create something unique encompassing both their natures.

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The towers can be as much as 60 feet (20 meters) high and look almost alive as they huff and puff streamers of steam into the south polar sky. Some of the volcanic steam freezes onto the inner part of the towers, expanding and extending them. [link, map]

10. The Fang in Vail – Frozen Waterfall, USA

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The Fang is a waterfall located near the town of Vail, Colorado. The enormous ice pillar forms from this waterfall only on exceptionally cold winters, and when it does the column can measure up to 50 meters (165 ft) high and has been known to have a base measuring 8 meters (26 ft) wide. [link]

11. Penitentes, Chile & Argentina

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Penitentes are amazing ice spikes formed naturally on plains at high altitudes areas especially on the Andes Ranges which are located more than 4000 meters (13,000 ft) above sea level. These ice pinnacles called penitentes attain varying heights from a few centimeters resembling grass lands to even 5 meters (17 ft) giving an impression of an ice forest. Their blades stand pointing towards the sun. When ice starts to melt in the early sunrays they slowly and steadily appear.

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People of the Andes attributed this phenomenon to the speedy winds blow in that region which was only part of the process; wind had only limited role in shaping these beautiful statues. As per recent scientific observations the sunlight which falls on the ice heats it up moreover some of the light gets trapped in the ice they undergo numerous deflection within the ice blocks which lead to the unequal melting of the ice and those parts of the ice that has not melted remain giving birth to strange shaped statues known as the penitentes. [link]

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42 of the World’s Most Beautiful Crater Lakes

December 22nd, 2012

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If you approached the rim of a volcano and looked down into it, you might expect to see a lava pool, but if the volcano previously erupted and then the top of it collapsed into a huge bowl-shaped crater, or caldera, then what you might see when you peer over the rim is a beautiful crater lake. Sometimes the water is acidic and the lake has a bright greenish hue. Other times the water is a cloudy turquoise color, yet other times the lake may appear to be a very deep shade of blue. Crater Lake, Oregon, is one of the most well known, but crater lakes can be found all over the globe. If the volcano has been dormant for a long time, the water can be extremely clear because no river or streams flow into with sediment deposits. In some cases, water may have filled up an impact crater to form a lake, but this is less common. A few crater lakes were created by man via an atomic blast, but an artificially-created crater lake is the least common of all. All crater lakes were once a place where the earth experienced great violence, but now are a place of great beauty . . . even though the volcano can become active and violent again. Here are 44 photos of 42 of the world’s most beautiful crater lakes. [44 Photos]

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Lake Quilotoa is a water-filled caldera and the westernmost volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes

Lake Quilotoa is a water-filled caldera and the western most volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The crater is about 2 miles wide and the lake is about 820 feet deep. It is tinted green by dissolved minerals. Photo #1 by Kevin Labianco

 

Deepest crater lake in the Uintas Mountains of Utah

Deepest crater lake in the Uintas Mountains of Utah. Photo #2 by Cordell Mandersen

Monsoon rains filled the crater lake, Lake Pinatubo in the Philippines

Lake Pinatubo, Philippines, formed after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo has filled with water from monsoon rains. At 800 m (2,600 ft), it is the deepest lake in the Philippines. Photo #3 by monggoy

Crater Lake at the Mouth of Taal Volcano in Luzon, Philippines

Lake Pinatubo is not the only such lake in the Philippines. This is the Crater Lake at the Mouth of Taal Volcano in Luzon. Photo #4 by Deck Chua

The Okama Crater Lake at Mount Zaō, Japan

The Okama Crater Lake at Mount Zaō, Japan. According to Wikipedia, it is “also known as the ‘Five Color Pond’ because it changes color depending on the weather.” It “lies in a crater formed by a volcanic eruption in the 1720s. The lake is 360 meters (1,200 ft) in diameter and 60 m (200 ft) deep, and is one of the main tourist attractions in the area.” Photo #5 by Laurenz Bobke

Lake Marjorie, Kings Canyon National Park

Lake Marjorie, Kings Canyon National Park. The photographer wrote, “Lakes in the High Sierra come in a number of colors. Lake Marjorie, at 11,132′ has an aquamarine ‘swimming pool’ tint. Crater Mountain dominates the skyline, with Pinchot Pass to the south. I was happy to see clouds at dawn, but by noon a fast moving storm was spitting hail, thunder, and lightning as we cleared Mather Pass. Damn, this spot is gorgeous.” Photo #6 by Steve Dunleavy

'An Infernal Bath', New Zealand, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Inferno Crater Lake

‘An Infernal Bath’, New Zealand, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Inferno Crater Lake. Photo #7 by Christopher Schoenbohm

Celestial Equator over Patagonia crater lake

154 square miles (400 sq kms) of volcanic area called Devil’s Slope, Argentina, is home to the world’s largest crater field. The Bajada del Diablo field is pocked with at least 100 depressions left by meteorite or comet collisions about 130,000 to 780,000 years ago. After capturing this image of a crater lake there, the photographer wrote, “The Celestial Equator: At the Celestial equator the stars are almost at the same distance from both celestial poles so they seem to travel in a straight line. The South Celestial pole is towards the top left of the photo. The North Celestial pole is below the horizon towards the bottom-right.” Photo #8 by Luis Argerich

Panoramic photo of Kerið crater lake, Iceland

Iceland, Klausturhólar- Kerið, a volcanic crater lake in the southwestern part of Iceland, “is approximately 55 m (180 ft) deep, 170 m (560 ft) wide, and 270 m (890 ft) across. Kerið’s caldera is one of the three most recognizable volcanic craters because at approximately 3,000 years old, it is only half the age of most of the surrounding volcanic features. While most of the crater is steep-walled with little vegetation, one wall is sloped more gently and blanketed with a deep moss, and can be descended fairly easily. The lake itself is fairly shallow (7–14 metres, depending on rainfall and other factors), but due to minerals from the soil, is an opaque and strikingly vivid aquamarine.” Photo #9 by Progresschrome

Ljótipollur, Landmannalaugar

Also in Iceland is Ljótipollur, Landmannalaugar. “The Ljótipollur is an explosion crater in Iceland in the Landmannalaugar area. Ljótipollur means something like Ugly modderpot, but it has really nice red colored walls and is filled with greenish water that contains many trout. A short side road from the intersection of the Fjallabaksleið and Landmannaleið leads to the top.” Photo #10 by µµ

White Island Crater Lake

Whakaari/White Island Crater Lake in New Zealand. Photo #11 by x-oph

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, Crater Lake and Wizard Island

Top: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, panorama. Bottom: Crater lake, Wizard Island. Photo #12 by Curtis Perry & #13 by Tim Hamilton

Lago Biao, Crater Lake

Lago Biao. “Wow. It was worth the 2+ hour uphill hike to this crater lake, which is at about 2000m elevation and situated in the southern half of the island of Bioko.” Photo #14 by John and Melanie (Illingworth) Kotsopoulos

Lonar Crater Lake at Aurangabad, India

Lonar Crater Lake at Aurangabad, India. Lonar crater lake was formed by a meteor strike about 50,000 years ago. Photo #15 by Akshay Charegaonkar

Kelimutu Colored Lakes - Komodo, Indonesia

Kelimutu Colored Lakes – Komodo, Indonesia. Home to Komodo National Park: Where Dragons Still Rule. Photo #16 by whl.travel

Mt.Shirane, crater lake in Japan

Mt. Shirane, crater lake in Japan. Photo #17 by digicacy

La Cumbre volcano, Fernandina Island, Galapagos

La Cumbre volcano, Fernandina Island, Galapagos. To illustrate how quickly a crater lake can change, this was photographed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station in 2002. But this crater lake has returned to its explosive beginnings. Wikipedia stated that it began erupting again in April 2009. It’s now the most active volcano of the Galapagos Islands. Photo #18 by ISS / NASA

Maly Semiachik volcano - crater lake. Kamchatka Peninsula, Far East Russia. Pale blue water fills the lake. The colour may be due to fine silica particles

Maly Semiachik volcano – crater lake. Kamchatka Peninsula, Far East Russia. “Pale blue water fills the lake. The color may be due to fine silica particles.” Russia has several crater lakes, including two that are artificial since they were created by atomic testing. Photo #19 by MOBmole

Deriba Crater Lake at Jebel Marra – Darfur, Sudan

Deriba Crater Lake at Jebel Marra – Darfur, Sudan. “The 5-kilometer-wide Deriba Caldera was formed by explosive eruption of the Jebel Marra Volcano approximately 3,500 years ago. The volcano is considered dormant, rather than extinct, as hot springs and fumaroles (gas and steam vents) are still present.” Photo #20 by J Williams

The Hnausapollur Bláhylur lake in a deep, volcanic crater

The Hnausapollur Bláhylur lake in a deep, volcanic crater. Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland. Photo #21 by Michał Sacharewicz

Gunug Rinjani Summit, crater lake

“After 3 hours of painstaking clambering up loose scree, I could see the whole of Lomok a volcanic island. The triangle shadow on the horizon is the shadow of Rinjani herself at sunrise. To the right of the shadow on the horizon is Bali again (very small). In the middle of the crater (which measures 20Km across) is the newer Gunug Baru on the lake (Danau Segara Anak),” wrote the photographer. Photo #22 by NeilsPhotography

Rano Kau has a crater lake which is one of Easter Island's only three natural bodies of fresh water

Rano Kau is a crater lake which is on mysterious and hauntingly beautiful Easter Island. This lake is one of only three natural bodies of fresh water on the island. Photo #23 by Eduardo Llanquileo

Askja, Iceland. View of Viti and Öskjuvatn

Askja, Iceland. View of Viti and Öskjuvatn. Photo #24 by Lev Glick

Lake Toba, North Sumatra, World's Largest Caldera Lake & the Site of the Toba Supervolcano that created the Ice Age

Lake Toba, North Sumatra, World’s Largest Caldera Lake & the Site of the Toba Supervolcano that created the Ice Age. It is “the largest lake in Indonesia and the largest volcanic lake in the world.” Photo #25 by Desktop Nexus

In Indonesia, Lake Segara Anak, Mount Rinjani, Lombok

In Indonesia, Lake Segara Anak, Mount Rinjani, Lombok. Photo #26 by Thorsten Peters

Out of this world, surreal night at Ijen komplex crater

Out of this World: “I took this picture inside the crater of the Ijen komplex. I spent nearly the whole night in this unreal and beautiful place to shoot timelapse sequences for my new short,” noted the photographer. Photo #27 by Dennis Stauffer

View of the Tengger caldera crater from Penanjakan

View of the Tengger caldera crater from Penanjakan. Photo #28 by NeilsPhotography

Laguna Cuicocha in Ecuador

Laguna Cuicocha in Ecuador. The photographer explained, “Cuicocha is a three kilometre (1.9-mile) wide caldera and crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano in the Cordillera Occidental of the Ecuadorian Andes. Its name comes from the Kichwa Indigenous language and signifies: “Lago del Cuye” or Guinea Pig Laguna in English. It was given this name due to the shape of the largest Island located in the middle of the Laguna resembling a Guinea Pig.” Photo #29 by Kevin Labianco

Laguna de Guatavita in Columbia, crater lake

Laguna de Guatavita in Columbia is a crater lake that no one knows for sure how it was formed. “It is a circular lake in the mountains in what appears to be a meteor crater. However, the origins of the crater are unclear.” The lake is steeped in legends and myths, including that “a ritual conducted there is widely thought to be the basis for the legend of El Dorado.” Photo #30 by See Columbia

Aoba, also known as Ambae or Leper's Island, is an island in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu

Two crater lakes on Ambae island, Vanuatu, 3D image acquired by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission aboard Endeavour Shuttle. Photo #31 by NASA/JPL/NGA

Blue Lake, Mount Gambier, Australia

Blue Lake, Mount Gambier, Australia. Photo #32 by Mike Lehmann

Crater Lake at Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica

Crater Lake at Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica. Photo #33 by Rafael Golan

Kasatochi Island crater lake

Kasatochi Island crater lake in Alaska as seen prior to the eruption of August 7, 2008. Yet another example of how a beautiful crater lake that began with mass devastation and violence and seem peaceful, safe and lovely before the geology changes and it returns to the earth’s cycle of violence. Photo #34 by Brie Drummond

Lake Maninjau' is a crater lake in West Sumatra, Indonesia

Lake Maninjau’ is a crater lake in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo #35 by Indi and Rani Soemardjan

Katmai Crater - Mount Katmai, Alaska

Katmai Crater on Mount Katmai, Alaska. Photo #36 by Captain Budd Christman, NOAA Corps

Winter Evening at Mount Ruapehu’s Crater Lake, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Winter Evening at Mount Ruapehu’s Crater Lake, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand. Photo #37 by myheimu

Crater Heaven's Lake in China

Heaven Lake, a crater lake at Tianchi at the border of China and North Korea. Photo #38 by Globe Images

Arctic Volcanic Crater Lake

Arctic Volcanic Crater Lake. Photo #39 by High Definition Wallpapers

Pingualuit Crater

The Pingualuit Crater is an impact crater filled with water. Photo #40 by Denis Sarrazin / NASA / Earth Observatory

Lake Bullen Merri is a brackish crater lake near Camperdown in Victoria, Australia

Lake Bullen Merri is a brackish crater lake near Camperdown in Victoria, Australia. Photo #41 by AJG061

Niuafoʻou Island, Tonga, from space

Niuafoʻou Island, Tonga, from space. Photo #42 by NASA / ISS

Phantom II fighter flies over Crater Lake, Oregon

A U.S. Air Force McDonnell F-4D-25-MC Phantom II fighter (s/n 64-0956, c/n 1383) form the 119th Fighter Wing The Happy Hooligans, North Dakota Air National Guard, flies over Crater Lake, Oregon (USA). The gorgeous crater lake remains, but the aircraft has since been retired. USAF Photo #43 by Larry Harrington

Aerial view of Aogashima, a volcanic Japanese island

Small bodies of water inside a huge crater as seen in this aerial view of Aogashima, a volcanic Japanese island. In time, who knows? This entire island may eventually fill with water and become a crater lake. Photo #44 by imgur via Wikipedia