Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Hạ Long Bay (Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long, about this sound listen, literally: "descending dragon bay") is a Unesco World Heritage site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam.

Christ of the Abyss in Italy

Christ of the Abyss (Italian: "Il Cristo degli Abissi") is a submerged bronze statue of Jesus Christ, the original of which is located in the Mediterranean Sea off San Fruttuoso between Camogli and Portofino on the Italian Riviera.

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses) is located in Maranhão state, in northeastern Brazil, just east of the Baía de São José.

Panjin Red Beach in China

Panjin (simplified Chinese: 盘锦; traditional Chinese: 盤錦; pinyin: Pánjǐn) is a prefecture-level city and a major oil production centre of Liaoning province, People's Republic of China.

Glass Beach, California, U.S.A.

Glass Beach is a beach in MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg, California that is abundant in sea glass created from years of dumping garbage into an area of coastline near the northern part of the town.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gaiola Bridge, Naples, Italy

Gaiola Island is one of the minor islands of Naples, Italy; it is offshore of Posillipo and gives its name to the Underwater Park of Gaiola (Parco Sommerso di Gaiola), a protected marine area.

The island takes its name from the cavities that dot the coast of Posillipo (from the Latin cavea, "little cave", and then through the dialect "Caviola"). 

Originally, the small island was known as Euplea, protector of safe navigation, and was the site of a small temple.

The island is very close to the coast, reachable with a few strokes of swimming. 

It is assumed that originally it was nothing more than an extension of the promontory opposite and was artificially separated only at a later time at the behest of Lucullus.

In the 17th century the island was virtually littered with Roman factories, while, two centuries later, the island served as a battery in defense of the Gulf of Naples.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the island was inhabited by a hermit, nicknamed "The Wizard", who lived thanks to the almsgiving of fishermen. 

Soon after, the island saw the construction of the villa that occupies it today and which was at one time owned by Norman Douglas, author of Land of the Siren. 

In the 1.920s there was a cable car that connected the island to the mainland.

Naples's population has considered Gaiola a "cursed island", which with its beauty hides a "restless fate". 

The reputation came about because of the frequent premature death of its owners. 

For example, in the 1.920s, it belonged to the Swiss Hans Braun, who was found dead and wrapped in a rug; a little later, his wife drowned in the sea. 

The next owner was the German Otto Grunback, who died of a heart attack while staying in the villa. 

A similar fate befell the pharmaceutical industrialist Maurice-Yves Sandoz, who committed suicide in a mental hospital in Switzerland; its subsequent owner, a German steel industrialist, Baron Karl Paul Langheim, was dragged to economic ruin by wild living. 

The island has also belonged to Gianni Agnelli, who suffered the deaths of many relatives, and to Paul Getty, who endured the kidnapping of a grandson. 

The last private owner of the island was Gianpasquale Grappone, who was jailed.

Newspapers talked again about the "Gaiola Malediction" in 2.009, after the murder of Franco Ambrosio and his wife Giovanna Sacco, who owned a villa opposite the island.

The island is now property of the Campania region.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini (Greek: Σαντορίνη, pronounced [sandoˈrini]), classically Thera /ˈθɪrə/, and officially Thira (Greek: Θήρα [ˈθira]); is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. 

It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550. 

The municipality of Santorini comprises the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. 

The total land area is 90.623 km2 (34.990 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit.

Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. 

A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. 

The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. 

On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. 

The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it possible for all but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a newly built marina at Vlychada, on the southwestern coast. The island's principal port is Athinias. 

The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. 

The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions feature olivine and have a small presence of hornblende.

It is the most active volcanic centre in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera. 

The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide. 

The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri.

The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history : the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. 

The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. 

Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.

The Cyclades are part of a metamorphic complex that is known as the Cycladic Massif. 

The complex formed during the Miocene and was folded and metamorphosed during the Alpine Orogeny around 60 million years ago. 

Thera is built upon a small, non-volcanic basement that represents the former non-volcanic island, which was approximately 9 by 6 km (5.6 by 3.7 mi). 

The basement rock primarily comprises metamorphosed limestone and schist, which date from the Alpine Orogeny. 

These non-volcanic rocks are exposed at the Profitis Ilias Mountains, Mesa Vouno, the Gavrillos ridge, Pyrgos, Monolithos, and the inner side of the caldera wall between Cape Plaka and Athinios.

The metamorphic grade comprises a blueschist facies, which results from tectonic deformation by the subduction of the African Plate beneath the Eurasian Plate. 

Subduction occurred between the Oligocene and the Miocene, and the metamorphic grade represents the southernmost extent of the Cycladic blueschist belt.

Volcanism on Santorini is due to the Hellenic Trench subduction zone southwest of Crete. The oceanic crust of the northern margin of the African Plate is being subducted under Greece and the Aegean Sea. which comprises thinned continental crust. 

The subduction compels the formation of the Hellenic arc, which includes Santorini and other volcanic centres, such as Methana, Milos, and Kos.

The island is the result of repeated sequences of shield volcano construction followed by caldera collapse.

The inner coast around the caldera is a sheer precipice of more than 300 m drop at its highest, and exhibits the various layers of solidified lava on top of each other, and the main towns perched on the crest. 

The ground then slopes outwards and downwards towards the outer perimeter, and the outer beaches are smooth and shallow. Beach sand colour depends on which geologic layer is exposed; there are beaches with sand or pebbles made of solidified lava of various colours: the Red Beach, the Black Beach, the White Beach, etc. 

The water at the darker coloured beaches is significantly warmer because the lava acts as a heat absorber. Santorini has a group of islands. 

Those islands are named, Thera, Thirasia, Aspronisi, Palea, and Nea Kameni. 

They were are created by volcanoes and are located in the Aegean Sea just north of Crete.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses) is located in Maranhão state, in northeastern Brazil, just east of the Baía de São José, between 02º19’—02º45’ S and 42º44’—43º29’ W. 

It is an area of low, flat, occasionally flooded land, overlaid with large, discrete sand dunes. It encompasses roughly 1500 square kilometers, and despite abundant rain, supports almost no vegetation. 

The park was created on June 2, 1.981. 

It was featured in the Brazilian film The House of Sand. Kadhal Anukkal, a song from an Indian film Endhiran starred by Rajnikanth was also shot here.

Located on the eastern coast of the state of Maranhão by the banks of the Preguiças River, the park embraces the municipalities of Humberto de Campos, Primeira Cruz, Santo Amaro and Barreirinhas, the latest serving as the main jumping off point into the protected park.

There are several regular bus/truck routes between Barreirinhas and São Luís, Brazil (Maranhão's capital), a distance of about 260 km. 

There are also air taxis from São Luís to Barreirinhas. 

The Rio Preguiças river connects the park to Atins, a city at the edge of the park. 

The National Park is quite extensive and has no access roads. 

Because of the nature of the park's protected status, most vehicles are not permitted access. 

Entrance to the park is made exclusively by 4 wheel drive trucks. 

Escorted trekking trips and tours are offered by Adventure Life, Bespoke Brazil, and Pantanal Adventures.

Composed of large, white, sweeping dunes, at first glance Lençóis Maranhenses looks like an archetypal desert. In fact it isn't actually a desert. 

Lying just outside the Amazon Basin, the region is subject to a regular rain season during the beginning of the year. 

The rains cause a peculiar phenomenon: fresh water collects in the valleys between sand dunes, spotting the desert with blue and green lagoons that reach their fullest between july and september.

The area is also surprisingly home to a variety of fish which, despite the almost complete disappearance of the lagoons during the dry season, have their eggs brought from the sea by birds.

The national park status serves only as a means of protecting the area's ecology; consequently many people are park residents, as is also the case with nearby Jericoacoara.

The inhabitants of the park work primarily as fishermen during the rainy season. 

During the dry season, many leave for neighboring regions to work small plots of land.

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Hạ Long Bay (Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long, about this sound listen, literally: "descending dragon bay") is a Unesco World Heritage site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. 

Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and part of Vân Đồn District. 

The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Hạ Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà islands to the southwest. 

These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.

Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. 

The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets.

The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. 

The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate.

The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem.

Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.

Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. 

The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000–7000 BC, the Cái Bèo culture 7000–5000 BC and the Hạ Long culture 5,000–3,500 years ago.

Hạ Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bài Thơ Mout, Đầu Gỗ Cave, Bãi Cháy.

500 years ago, Nguyễn Trãi praised the beauty of Hạ Long Bay in his verse Lộ nhập Vân Đồn, in which he called it "rock wonder in the sky".

In 1.962, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of North Vietnam listed Hạ Long Bay in the National Relics and Landscapes publication.

In 1.994, the core zone of Hạ Long Bay was listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site according to criterion vii, and listed for a second time according to criterion viii.