When did the continents appear?

This gorgeous shot is Alaska’s Augustine volcano, one of the many volcanoes produced by subduction of the Pacific Plate beneath the rocks of Alaska. This lovely cone is just one tiny sliver of the story to tell today – it’s a piece of a continent.

Earth is unique for a number of reasons, including obviously the existence of life and Facebook pages devoted to Earth science. Another unique property of Earth is the existence of volcanoes like this; almost all of the volcanism in the solar system differs from this peak.

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“Under the moonlight I set my tripod up just outside the tent, and at around 1:30 a.m. we awoke to the rumbling of the ground and the sound of a breath-stealing explosion. I scrambled to the camera just in time to capture a moonlit and lava-covered Fuego as it put on this beautiful display of activity and power,“ said Andrew Shepard, who captured this amazing view of the highly active Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala.