Kegon Falls

This spectacular landscape began forming about 7000 years ago during the last known activity of the nearby Nantai stratovolcano on Japan’s Honshu Island. An Andesite lava flow from that volcano dammed the nearby Daiya River, creating a natural lake behind the dam today known as Lake Chūzenji. Cooling of the lava flow in the dam created a classic pattern of columnar jointing that survives to this day. Once the lake filled enough, it began spilling over the dam, forming the spectacular Kegon Falls.

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Lava flows into the Pacific Ocean at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and slowly makes the Big Island even bigger. The glowing rocks, roiling waves and clouds of steam create one of nature’s most fascinating sights. You can’t visit Hawaii without seeing it. Photo by Aaron Meyers (www.sharetheexperience.org).

The Longest Lava Flow

Since 1983, the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater on the East Rift Zone of the Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, has been pouring out lava almost uninterrupted. This eruption has gone on long enough to develop patterns: when the land surface near the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater rises, it signals increasing pressure in the magma system and suggests lava is likely to break out from the crater and form a new flow.

In May of 2014, scientists observed that the area around the crater was inflating, signaling just such an increase in pressure. On June 27 of 2014, the wall of the crater ruptured on its northeast side, allowing lava to flow out onto the surface and relieving that pressure.

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Rare and fragile, the beautiful hexagonal crystal (4 x 2.1 x 1.2 cm) in the photo comes from the only source of this gemmy yellow sulphate mineral: The N'Chwaning Mines in South Africa’s Kalahari manganese fields. Elsewhere it occurs as microcrystals, usually white to colourless. The mineral needs careful storage, since it is hydrated, and as water evaporates from the structure the colour turns white.

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