by Mark Pygas: The extraordinary scenes that nature creates never cease to surprise and astound us. It’s hard to believe that these phenomena actually happen on Earth–and not another planet.

The Everlasting Storm, Venezuela

At the mouth of the Catatumbo River in Venezuela, a very unique mass of storm clouds swirls, creating the rare spectacle known as Catatumbo lightning. The storm occurs up to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day, and 280 times an hour.


The Great Blue Hole, Belize


These massive underwater caves formed during past ice ages, when sea level was far lower than it is today and much of the seafloor was exposed to the elements. Blue holes were the target of erosion, which ended when they were once again submerged.


Green Flash Sunsets and Sunrises


This rare and elusive scene is a meteorological event that occurs for a few seconds only when the sun starts to dip below or rise above the horizon. Meteorological conditions have to be just right to allow light from the sun to bend in the atmosphere and appear briefly as a green flash.


The Gateway to Hell, Turkmenistan



The Gateway to Hell is a vent, where natural gas escapes to the surface through cracks in the rocks. The flame it produces has burned ever since it was set alight in 1971. A similar flame in Iraq has burned for for over 4,000 years and is even mentioned in the Old Testament.


Volcanic Lightning

Volcanic plumes produce immense amounts of electrical charge and static. In rare cases, this can spark a violent lightning storm.

Spherical Boulders, New Zealand


The Moeraki Boulders are huge natural spherical boulders that have formed at Koekohe Beach over time. These balls were originally formed under the sea floor in a process that saw sediment, such as sand, hardened into stone. Over 60 million years, coastal erosion revealed these creations to the world


Steam Towers, Iceland


The area of Hverir is incredibly geothermally active, so much so that ghostly towers of steam and gas rise from bodies of water and mud as they boil. Combined with the Northern Lights, this place looks like an alien world.


Ice Caves



Ice caves are temporary structures that form at the edge of glaciers when flowing water melts a hole into glaciers. The tightly packed ice has very few air bubbles and absorbs all light except for blue, giving the ice its unique color.


Columnar Basalt


These columns that are so perfect, they almost look artificial. Millions of years ago, they were lava plateaus, which over time, cooled and fractured to create the stunning facade we see today.


Fire Rainbows


Fire Rainbows are formed by light reflecting from ice crystals in high level clouds. The halos are so large, they often appear parallel to the horizon.

The Almost Never-Ending Wave, Brazil


The Pororoca is a surfable tidal wave that travels as far as 500 miles up the Amazon River – and at times – can reach 12 feet high. The longest wave in the world forms only twice a year from February to March, when the tides of the Atlantic Ocean meet the mouth of the Amazon. A Brazilian surfer set the record when he rode the wave for 37 minutes, travelling nearly 8 miles.

Marianas Trench, Pacific Ocean

Marianas Trench is the deepest part of the world’s vast oceans, at a staggering depth of nearly 7 miles. If Mount Everest was put at the very bottom, it would still be covered by a mile of water. The unfathomable trench has given birth to some of the strangest creatures you will ever see.

Danxia Landforms, China


These colourful rock formations are the result of red sandstone and mineral deposits laid down over millions of years. Wind and rain then carved amazing shapes into the rock, forming natural pillars, towers, ravines, valleys, and waterfalls.


The Monarch Butterfly Migration, United States and Mexico



On their own, Monarch butterflies are a beautiful orange and black, but when they migrate in mass every year, they fill the sky with a swath of brilliance. When temperatures fall in October, millions of butterflies will travel up to 2,500 miles from North America towards Mexico, covering trees as they make their epic escape from winter.


Nacreous Clouds, Arctic Environments


These incredible clouds are extremely rare, because normally, the stratosphere is quite dry and clouds cannot form. But in extreme polar winters, there’s just enough moisture for these strange clouds to take form about 12 miles above Earth.


The Sardine Run, South Africa



The sardine run occurs from May to July every year, when billions of sardines move from cooler waters at Cape Point towards the East coast of South Africa. Groups of sardines are so large that they can be spotted by satellites and often measure more than 5 miles long, 1 mile wide and 100 feet deep.


The Flowering Desert, Chile



Once every few years, the barren Atacama desert sprawls with gorgeous flowers. This amazing transformation occurs when unusual amounts of rain awaken dormant flower bulbs hidden deep beneath the sand.


Living Rocks, Chile

It can be difficult to believe, but these rocks are living, breathing organisms. Their appearance allows them to blend into beaches and avoid predators. Interestingly, these creatures have both male and female organs and can breed individually.

Socotra Island, Yemen

Booms Beat

National GeographicSocotra is so isolated that one third of its plant life is found nowhere else on planet Earth. One of the most bizarre forms of life is the dragon blood tree, which resembles an umbrella.

Lenticular Clouds, Mountainous Areas




These lens-shaped anomalies form when moist air flows over a mountain and piles into large and layered clouds. Due to their strange shape, these clouds are often mistaken for UFOs.

Red Crab Migration, Christmas Island



In October and November, the 120 million crabs that call Christmas Island home begin a mass migration to the ocean in hopes of mating. For around 18 days every year, traffic is halted as the roads run red with crabs edging their way to the coast.


Spotted Lake, Canada



As the water evaporates from this lake near Osoyoos, British Columbia, minerals are left behind in a strange lily pad pattern of circles, which make the lake look entirely foreign. Each circle is a different colour, because of the vast amount of minerals found in the lake.


Underwater Crop Circles, Japan



These strange patterns are found on the seabed, rather than in fields of corn. At around 7 feet wide, they litter the Japanese sea floor, each with a unique pattern. Until recently, we had no idea how these patterns were produced, but surprisingly, tiny fish were the culprits. Male pufferfish, no more than 5 inches long, will flap their fins in the sand to produce these amazing patterns in hopes of attracting a mate.


Frozen Methane Bubbles



Methane bubbles form in water when dead organic matter falls to the bottom, much to the delight of bacteria. When methane gets trapped in frozen water, it produces scenes like these. Just don’t light a match when these bubbles are freed.


Fairy Circles, Namibia



Fairy circles are mysterious patches of bare soil that appear in otherwise lush African grassland. Fly from Angola to South Africa and you’ll see thousands of these patches, which can sometimes measure 30 feet across. Scientists believe that termites live under these circles and consume the vegetation within, so that rain keeps the soil moist.


The Black Sun, Denmark


antikleidi.comDuring spring in Denmark, flocks of more than a million European starlings gather into a single group to form incredibly large and intricate shapes in the sky. These amazing scenes are only possible because of the flock’s amazing communication and coordination.

Morning Glory Clouds, Australia

Morning Glory clouds are incredibly rare, so much so, that we don’t know what causes these strange cloud formations. They’re most commonly seen at fall in the small town of Burketown in Australia.

Fields of Webs



Yes, those are thousands of spider webs. Fields like these ones in Australia are transformed when thousands upon thousands of spiders migrate across the land leaving behind vast and intricate webs. This usually only occurs when spiders are fleeing floodwaters.

Bioluminescent Waves, Vaadhoo Island, Maldives


The sparkle in these waves comes from marine microbes called phytoplankton that glow in the dark. The galaxy they paint across the shore is nothing short of breathtaking.

Mammatus Cloud


Mammatus clouds are pouches that form and hang underneath the base of a cloud. They occur very rarely when when air and clouds holding different levels of moisture mix, with the heavier one sinking below the lighter.

Geysers Before Eruption, Strokkur, Iceland


While erupting geysers are entrancing, far fewer people have ever seen the strange sight of a geyser moments before it errupts. Water gathers into a massive blister just minutes before the spring erupts, making it an extremely rare and strange sight.

Underwater Rivers



Underwater rivers, like those in Cenote Angelita, Mexico, form when a heavy, flowing substance (like hydrogen sulfate) enters a body of water and sinks to the bottom, forming a separate flow.


Calcifying Lakes




Some lakes have such a high salt content that if animals take a dip in the water, their bodies calcify (effectively turning into stone).


Asperatus Clouds


Asperatus Clouds are so rare that they were only classified as of 2009. We know little about them other than the fact that they look mesmerizing.

Horsetail Fall, California

<img class="aligncenter" alt="Horsetail Fall, California" src="http://www.distractify.netdn

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