Pamukkale, Denizli Province, Turkey

Pamukkale is a geological site in the Denizli Province in southwest Turkey that is famous for its hot water springs and cascade of travertine terraces. The surreal, crystal-white structures of the site are formed by the rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate minerals from the supersaturated waters of the geothermal springs. As these mineral-rich waters reach the surface, dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) degasses, increasing the pH of the water and eventually resulting in the formation of spectacular travertine deposits. In Turkish, the name Pamukkale means “Cotton Palace”.

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Information source: UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

Image: Pools and travertine terraces of Pamukkale in Turkey. Credit: Antoine Taveneaux, Wikimedia Commons.

Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia

Lake Baikal is located in the southern part of eastern Siberia in Russia and is the oldest and deepest freshwater lake on Earth. Containing approximately 20 % of all fresh water at Earth’s surface, it is also the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume. The lake was formed approximately 25 million years ago in an ancient rift valley in the Baikal Rift Zone and is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Lake Baikal is characterized by a very high biodiversity, hosting many plant and animal species that exist nowhere else in the world, such as the Baikal seal or nerpa. In winter, the surface of the lake becomes completely frozen.

Information source: Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Wikipedia

Image: Shamanka, or Shaman’s Rock, along the shores of Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, Russia. Credit: Виктория Шерина, Wikimedia Commons.

Mount Everest, Himalayas, Nepal and China

With a summit at 8848 meters, Mount Everest is the highest mountain peak on Earth. It is located in the Himalayas on the border between Nepal and China and is surrounded by several other high peaks, including the Lhotse, Nuptse and Changtse. The lower part of Mount Everest consists of metamorphic rocks such as schists and gneisses, as well as numerous granite intrusions. The middle part of the mountain consists of schists, phyllites and marbles with a lesser metamorphic grade, while the upper part of the mountain is mostly characterized by a succession of limestones and siltstones. Mount Everest and the Himalayas have been formed by the continental collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates in the Cenozoic.

Information source: Sagarmatha National Park Service

Image: Mount Everest in the Himalayas as seen from Tibet, China. Credit: Luca Galuzzi, Wikimedia Commons.