6 of The Weirdest Places on Earth Compilation




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[Music] there's a bunch of weird places on earth where biology chemistry and geology make it seem like you are on another world here at scishow we like to explore lots of these extreme environments and we've collected a few of our favorites in one video for you to enjoy we'll start with some caves which are often home to a bunch of weirdness because they're so isolated from the rest of the planet and one cave in Mexico was hiding some giant geologic structures about 15 years ago when a mining company started pumping water out of a cave 300 metres below naica mexico they we're hoping to find lead or zinc or maybe some silver once they finished pumping the water out though they realized that they weren't gonna be mining anything from this cave mostly because of the giant 12 meter long spikes everywhere the spikes were actually huge crystals the largest ever found and the pillars of mineral as big as three-story buildings weren't the only hazard in the cave have you managed to make the same descent the miners did you'd only get to see the crystals for about 10 minutes because that's roughly how long a human can survive unprotected in the cave the appropriately named giant crystal cave was discovered in 2000 when miners were drilling a tunnel to expand their mine they'd already pumped the water out of the area and as they blasted through the rock they revealed the 30 by 10 meter cave containing enormous crystals of selenite a crystal form of the mineral gypsum the conditions in the caves are a collection of extremes the thermometer reads about 58 degrees Celsius on a good day and the humidity hovers around 100% the cave contains hundreds of crystals some to 12 metres long and weighing about 50 metric tons it's so hot and humid in the giant crystal gave that the insides of your lungs would actually be the coolest surface around so the water vapor in the air would condense in your lungs as he breathed and that is not a great thing to have happen to you essentially if you stayed in the cave long enough you'd drown in your own lungs so understandably these conditions make scientific research kind of tough scientists have to go in there with custom-made super-powerful refrigeration suits but even those only buy them about a half an hour at a time so we still have a lot to learn about the cave and what's in it maybe even forms of life we've never seen before it might seem unlucky that the cave with the largest crystals in the world is so inhospitable but those conditions are actually the perfect nursery for these mineral formations the cave lies deep beneath naica mountain which formed about twenty six million years ago from volcanic activity and all that molten lava came with a bonus a whole lot of an hydrate and hydrate is the dehydrated form of the mineral gypsum both compounds have the same chemical makeup except for the anhydride is missing water but if conditions are right and hydride can absorb water and become gypsum and if the anhydride turns into gypsum slowly enough it will crystallize selenite just one of the many forms that gypsum can take the real key to this process is temperature if it's above 58 degrees and hydrate will be stable and just sit there but at or below 58 degrees it'll begin to dissolve and use the water in the environment to essentially reform into gypsum and that is exactly what happened in giant crystal cave once the magma beneath the mountain cooled to around 58 degrees the anhydride began dissolving very very slowly then new particles of hydrated gypsum began to form as crystals of selenite now other caves in the same mountain like the one with a particularly boss name of cave of Swords also contained lots of selenite crystals the crystals there are only about a metre long because that cave cooled more rapidly so the hydrated gypsum formed too quickly to deposit as very large crystals the giant crystal cave was just deep enough in the ground to stay at the transition temperature since the cave was around 58 degrees for about a half a million years and filled with anhydride rich water the selenite crystals just kept on growing until the year 2000 when we pumped the water out technically there's no limit to how big the crystals can get in such perfect conditions so when the mine eventually closes and we stop pumping the water out of the cave the crystals will again start growing so huge crystals are cool but caves are also home to plenty of other things too like there's a cave in Romania that was sealed off from the rest of the world for millions of years leading to some really weird forms of life weird stuff happens in caves venture into the darkness and you never know what you might find glowworms crystals millions of sleeping bats a Horcrux Grendel's mom in 1986 a prospecting crew in southern Romania was looking for a good place to build a geothermal power plant when they accidentally discovered one of the oddest caves of all it's called moviola cave and it's basically a time capsule crawling with strange life that has lived separate from the rest of earth for millions of years more than 20 meters underground the cave is pitch dark warm and full of toxic gases and holds a lake that reeks of burnt rubber and rotten eggs and other than the prospecting shaft the cave is totally sealed up in all directions you heard me right it's been cut off from the rest of the world for about five and a half million years making it one of the most isolated places on earth thanks to the thick layers of clay above the cave nothing seeps down from the Earth's surface no sunlight no food and no water there aren't even any traces of radioactive metals from the Chernobyl nuclear accident which are spread throughout the soils and lakes near the cave but there are all sorts of hardcore creepy crawlies down there and they've formed a complex ecosystem Avila's lake water is covered by a tissue paper like mat made up of billions of autotrophic bacteria which can turn inorganic compounds like carbon dioxide along with some energy into food and the air in the cave that has about 100 times more carbon dioxide than outside air which provides them all the co2 they need here on Earth's surface lots of organisms like plants use light and carbon dioxide to make food that's photosynthesis but these bacteria cannot use photosynthesis they live in total darkness so they don't have access to sunlight or any light energy at all so instead they use chemosynthesis or energy from chemical reactions involving the toxic gases in the cave like hydrogen sulfide to help generate their food other kinds of bacteria floating in the lake use methane gas as their only source of carbon and energy worms shrimp and other smaller organisms feast on all of these microbes and then larger invertebrates like spiders and centipedes feed on them not only do these chemosynthetic bacteria support an entire ecosystem but they also end up shaping the cave itself reactions involving hydrogen sulfide gas produced sulfuric acid which the limestone walls over time that gradually makes the cave bigger and also releases more carbon dioxide gas it's a pretty cool ecosystem and the moviola cave is the only place we know like this at least on land deep down in the ocean there geothermal vents thick with the same types of toxic gases found in the cave and there are a similar chemosynthetic bacteria living around those vents both novela cave and the vents might resemble the dark and gassy conditions of the early days of planet Earth which has left some scientists wondering if these movie land microbes might be similar to the first kinds of life but even though similar bacteria have been found elsewhere what about all those larger invertebrates be honest they're a bunch of creepy looking weirdos but I guess living in total isolation and darkness for millions of years will do that to you scientists have discovered 48 species in the cave 33 of which were previously unknown including three spiders a leech a centipede and a very unusual insect called a water scorpion that actually seems to be related to bedbugs these organisms show the Trog like a DAP tations that are associated with life in the dark like lack of skin pigmentation and extra long antennae to help them feel around in the darkness in fact many are born without eyes at all since they don't have much use for them now though you might be wondering how the heck these creatures got stuck underground in the first place well we're not entirely sure one hypothesis is that the changing climate at the end of the Miocene five and a half million years ago may have had something to do with it holder drier conditions on the Earth's surface could have sent surface and invertebrates underground looking for shelter and warm and when the cave eventually sealed up they were trapped one of Mo Vilas spiders is closely related to a surface species found 4,000 kilometres away in the Canary Islands which may support this theory and again it's also possible that some critters just fell in through cracks and the limestone more recently like two million years ago instead of five either way it's a fascinating look at the strange ecosystems that can form in extreme places and now it's time to leave these cramped dark caves and think way bigger because there's a weird place that can only really be appreciated from space it's been less than a hundred years since we got our first really good look at the geological marvel known as the eye of the Sahara despite the fact that people have been walking across it right there in the middle of Mauritania for thousands of years but at 50 kilometers across it helps to have a wider view of one of the world's coolest geological features so the best way to see the formation formerly known as the reshot structure is from space it's so big that early NASA missions actually used it as a landmark given the structures concentric circles and uncanny symmetry it's hard to fault scientists for initially suspecting that it was a crater formed from some enormous impact but it is not the product of a meteor comet or even an ancient volcano as scientists once theorized while there's still disagreement about how this almost perfectly circular shape came to be most scientists will tell you that the reshot structure is actually a deeply eroded geologic dome this dome formed more than a hundred million years ago when the churning landmasses that make up africa caused the lithosphere that's the crust and upper mantle of the Earth's surface to weaken this weakness allowed the don't to rise up as magma swelled below the surface geologists call this kind of uplift an anticline basically an enormous fold of rock sticking up from its surroundings and this one was nearly symmetrical a circular anticline the fold contained alternating layers of the three most common types of rocks sedimentary metamorphic and igneous and because of how an anticline forms the oldest rocks of the formation are at the center of the fold while the younger rocks are on the outer layers over millions of years the dome eroded away likely sped along by all the hydrothermal water in the area another symptom of the magma lurking near the surface the different types of rock eroded much different rates so the layers of sedimentary rock which erode more easily were worn away to form the valleys within the structure meanwhile the harder metamorphic rocks like quartzite and igneous rock which are more resistant to erosion remain this left the oldest rocks exposed as cliffs separated by valleys where the younger softer rock used to be creating the reshot structures weird concentric landscape so if you're ever in Mauritania or a low Earth orbit keep a big ol eye out for it it sort of feels like the earth has a giant eye sauron just like looking for planets with rings and if that's not spooky enough for you here's a spot and Antarctica where it looks like the earth is bleeding blood Falls not only has one of the Ausmus names of any location on earth I mean we were trying to come up with a good joke to tell it turns out there's actually a vampire diaries fansite called blood falls so what there's that we didn't even have to write a joke it was already existing in real life but blood Falls in addition to being a vampire diaries fansite is also probably the southernmost of the weird places that you might visit in your lifetime if you happen to ever visit Antarctica you've heard me go on before about Antarctica subsurface lakes I go on about them because they're really nard rockin ly amazing rivaled only by the deep ocean floors the unlikeliest places on earth where scientists keep finding strange new living things in early 2013 for instance scientists breached the ancient underground Lake Whillans in West Antarctica and found microbes under 800 meters of ice about five thousand bacteria in every teaspoon of water where temperatures can reach negative five degrees Celsius and no substance has ever known the case of sunlight and blood falls it's even stranger and cooler to watch here in a valley in East Antarctica water periodically emerges from a sub glacial lake four hundred meters underground and the water is not only super salty almost three times saltier than seawater it's also incredibly old and it can run as red as a vampire's eyes the story of blood falls begins around five million years ago when East Antarctica was inundated by the sea forming a salty lake some three million years later glaciers began to form and moved over it isolating the lake and its inhabitants from the rest of the world in a biological time capsule as the salt water on top slowly froze it made the remaining water underneath saltier and saltier so much so that today even though it's now well below zero degrees Celsius down there the water won't freeze and in addition to being wicked cold and hecka salty the water is also chock full of iron scraped up by the glacier from the bedrock below there's almost no free oxygen floating around under the ice but when the iron-rich water reaches the surface oxygen in the air turns the iron to rust and not just a tawny brown rust but a rich red sanguine rust that gives the Falls its name so it's decide to put on your bucket list for sure but I got to say the most amazing feature of blood falls is what's been found living there for 2 million years in a salty liquid habitat that probably tastes like roofing nails with no lighter breathable oxygen a community of microbes has found a way to survive that scientists say has never been observed elsewhere by using iron to breathe kinda the bacteria actually seemed to get their energy from sulfur much like those found at deep-sea thermal vents which they're probably related to at blood falls they respire by breaking apart oxygen containing sulfur compounds called sulfates but then the leftovers of this reaction interact with the iron in the water to restore the sulfates essentially recycling the organisms soul energy source pretty slick right the fact that organisms can survive like this has all kinds of implications for understanding the capacity for life not only on other worlds but also in Earth's distant history like during the so called snowball earth period when much of the planet was thought to have been covered in ice some 700 million years ago so blood falls the next time you visit Antarctica you should totally go there well I'm probably not going to go there besides ain't arctica being frickin cold it's a little too windy for my tastes but that brings us to our next weird place which is probably caused by extreme winds the dancing forest of Kaliningrad is exactly the kind of place where you'd expect to find a werewolf creeping through the mist located in a place called the caronian spit off the Baltic Sea on the border of Russia and Lithuania the strange forest is known to locals by a jollier name the drunken forest because well the stand of pine trees looks more than a little schnockered as they twist and curves stretching upward and contorted loops to find their way to the sky and here's the thing no one knows why these trees look like they're grinding to Marvin Gaye of course theories abound some suggesting unstable soils the cause or beetle damage or even nuclear radiation local legends say that crawling through one of these tree loops in the right direction will earn you an extra year of life a more popular non-magical theory suggests powerful winds were the original shaping force and there is a precedent for that if you've ever hiked into an Alpine zone forest you've probably seen patches of stunted twisted supercool mini trees called Krumholtz make it so thoroughly clobbered by a harsh cold winds that they end up growing more horizontal than vertical but some people think that the trees in the dancing forest have been trained to grow that way humans have long been manipulating trees for commercial or aesthetic purposes in mr. Miyagi and his bonsais he was all about tree shaping humans can train a young tree to grow in unconventional ways by laying a heavy object on its skinny trunk sometimes for years the tree just like the house plant in your windowsill wants to grow toward the Sun really bad and no weight is going to stop it from reaching the light a process called phototropism and whether plants are made to bend intentionally or not the effects of phototropism can change the character of its tissues in trees the wood that forms under the pressure of weight is called reaction wood or in conifers compression wood it's created when the layer of tissue beneath the bark called the cambium thickens below the source of the pressure to support the horizontal weight of the tree in time the funny shape of the bend becomes permanent and it leaves behind a record of oval or oblong instead of more circular rings in the case of the dancing forest local historians have no recollection of any human manipulation to create this effect but there is another forest in Northwest Poland called the crooked forest made of about 400 pine trees that all have unified ninety degree bends at the base of their trunks the trees are all the same age and they all Bend north because of this uniformity many people believe that this forest was manipulated by humans perhaps to grow uniquely shaped wood for oxen yokes ship hulls or for furniture making that particular theory maintains that the trees were shaped before 1930 but were abandoned before they could be harvested with the outbreak of World War two but ultimately even the cause of the crooked forests odd tree shapes remains a mystery and they could also be attributed to some powerful force like strong winds heavy snow and ice pack were even the result of one of my favorite theories being run over by Nazi tanks as young trees during the war you know all this reminds us that while scientific explanations of natural phenomena are usually pretty cool and often necessary sometimes it's maybe a little bit cooler for it just to be a mystery and now that we've covered extreme rocks life forms water and trees what would be a weird places compilation without at least one volcano so to wrap things up we've got a video about an Indonesian crater where the lava appears to glow blue while scrolling through social media you might have seen some pictures of bright blue lava flows and raised a skeptical eyebrow and hey good for you doubting stuff on the internet because Photoshop is a thing but those photos are real even though the molten rock isn't what's blue it's actually combusting gasses that make the glowing blue flames a volcanic crater on the island of Java in Indonesia called kawah ijen is the best place to see this phenomenon at night plus the crater also has a deadly vivid turquoise lake which is full of acid the chemistry of the volcano causes both of these brilliant colors but in two different ways lots of volcanoes spit up gaseous sulfur compounds like the Dalal volcano in ethiopia so blue flames aren't unique to this crater but kawatte youjin happens to have spectacular amounts of sulfur enough to support a huge mine the miners are after the bright yellow chunks of solidified sulfur rock but if sulfur forms a yellow solid why do the sulfuric gases seeping up from the ground burn blue it all has to do with the chemistry of combustion when a fuel like a sulfur compound mixes with oxygen in high enough temperatures a combustion reaction happens heat gets released and new chemicals are formed like sulfur dioxide and the visible part of the fire is the flames which are caused by a bunch of atoms spewing out light energy basically the energy from the combustion reaction boosts the electrons in the fuel atoms to a more energetic state when the electrons fall back to their original state they release all that extra energy as a photon of light the wavelengths of those photons determine what the flames color is and in the case of sulfur compounds catching fire it's an eerie blue glow during the day kawaii gens lava looks pretty much like the orange II red lava of any active volcano all the sulfuric gases are still burning but the bright sunlight washes the color out but at night sightseers flock to see all of the glowing blue flames on the rivers of molten rock if that wasn't enough to make Kauai Asia in one of the world's weirdest places then there's also that turquoise acidly volcanoes tend to bring all sorts of chemicals from the earths in terior up to the surface and in kawaii Jen's case there are plenty of things besides sulfur like chlorine and a bunch of metals in the crater lake water the sulfur dioxide gas made by the combustion reaction dissolves and forms sulfuric acid and the chlorine compounds means that there's hydrochloric acid in there too the pH of that crater lake is no joke below 0.5 which is really really acidic like stronger than the acid in your car battery needless to say don't go swimming in that death lake no matter how cool it looks even just measuring the pH of the water can be a really dangerous job acid that strong can dissolve metals no problem and dissolved metals do something that organic carbon containing chemicals usually don't they turn bright colored the color you get and whether you get a color at all has to do with the chemistry and geometry of the metal ions floating inside the solution many kinds of metal ions absorb certain wavelengths of visible light and your eyes perceive color based on the wavelengths of light that are reflected off an object so when a metal ion absorbs one color of visible light you'll usually see a complementary color to the one that's absorbed the hue that's across from it on the color wheel if a compound absorbs light outside of the visible spectrum all of the visible light gets reflected and the solution looks white or clear that's why organic chemistry might as well be called 600 colourless compounds and how to draw them in organic chemistry is where all the colors are so the mixture of dissolved metals and khawaja and slake is what makes the water look vividly turquoise if the volcano were to erupt there's a chance that the lakebed could rupture and send that acidic death water cascading down the mountain to do serious harm and because Java is so densely populated volcanologists keep a very very close eye on any volcanic activity in the area so kawaiii gen owes its incredible colors to sulfur compounds whether they're burning or dissolved in the lake with some metals those two different kinds of chemistry make this weird place a beautiful and deadly destination thanks for joining us for this compilation of some of the weirdest places on our wonderful planet if you want to keep learning about strange science with us just go to youtube.com/scishow subscribe [Music]