geological oddities

The three lakes of Kelimutu, in addition to sounding like the title of a fantasy novel, are a geological oddity found snuggled up against the base of a dormant volcano in Indonesia. They’ve become a popular tourist attraction, but not for swimming, unless you’re looking to re-create the most accidentally hilarious sequence from Dante’s Peak – the acid-saline pools are too caustic for taking a dip. No, these lakes are famous for their ability to change color like three giant bowls of melted chameleons.

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Hvitserkur, which translates to “white shirt” and derives its name from being covered in Shag and Cormorant guano, rises 15 metres, or nearly 50 feet from the sea. It was once the plug of a volcano, but over the years the craters surrounding the rock plug gave way to the pounding Atlantic Ocean leaving only the unusual outcropping Hvítserkur behind. Curiously, Hvítserkur itself would have given way to the ocean as well, had its foundations not been shored up with concrete some years ago. Icelandic legend has it that the rock was a troll who forgot to retreat from the light and was turned to stone in the sunrise, though from some angles it is said to look like a dragon drinking from the water. The geological oddity was commemorated on an Icelandic stamp in 1990.