Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category
Tepuis are flat table-top mountains found in the Guayana Highlands of South America, especially in Venezuela. In the language of the Pemon people who live in the Gran Sabana, Tepui means ‘House of the Gods’ due to their height.
Tepuis tend to be found as isolated entities rather than in connected ranges, which makes them host to hundreds of endemic plant and animal species, some of which are found only on one tepui. Towering over the surrounding forest, the tepuis have almost sheer vertical flanks, and many rise as much as 1,000 meters above the surrounding jungle. The tallest of them are over 3,000 meters tall. The nearly vertical escarpments and dense rainforest bed on which these tepuis or mesa lie make them inaccessible by foot. Only three of the Gran Sabana’s mountains can be reached by foot, among which the 2,180m-high Roraima is the most accessible.
Tepuis are the remains of a large sandstone plateau that once covered the granite basement complex between the north border of the Amazon Basin and the Orinoco, between the Atlantic coast and the Rio Negro, during the Precambrian period. Over millions of years, the plateaus were eroded and all that were left were isolated flat-headed tepuis. Although the tepuis looks quite barren, the summit is teeming with life.
The high altitude of tepuis causes them to have a different climate from the ground forest. The top is often cooler with frequent rainfall, while the bases of the mountains have a tropical, warm and humid climate. Many extraordinary plants have adapted to the environment to form species unique to the tepui.
Some 9,400 species of higher plants have been recorded from the Venezuelan Guayana, of which 2322 are registered from the tepuis. Approximately one-third of the species occur nowhere else in the world.
There are 115 such tabletop mountains in the Gran Sabana region in the south-east of Venezuela where the highest concentration of tepuis are found. The most famous among them is Mount Roraima. Roraima, was unexplored until 1884. Today, the plateaued summit is a popular destination for backpackers and home to small waterfalls, natural quartz-lined pools and Punto Triple, the point at which the borders of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana meet. Mount Roraima is said to have inspired the Scottish author Arthur Conan Doyle to write his novel The Lost World.
The other famous tepui is Auyantepui, home to Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world. Auyantepui is also the largest of the tepuis with a surface area of 700 km².
The highest mountain on Earth is Mount Everest in the Himalayas of Asia, whose summit is 8,849.868 m (29,035 ft) above mean sea level. The highest known mountain on any planet in the Solar System is Olympus Mons on Mars at 21,171 m (69,459 ft).
The 150 highest mountains are located in the Himalayan range, the next highest range is the Andes in South America, followed by the Rockies in North America and then the Alps in Europe. Some large isolated mountains such as Mt. Kilimanjaro are found in Africa.
Mountains are majestic, pristine and daunting. But the greatest attribute of mountains is the sheer beauty of the massive formations.
Spring Mountains just west of Las Vegas, Nevada
Sierra Nevada range in eastern California
The southern tip of the Andes in the Patagonia region of South America
The Canadian Rockies
The Alps in Europe
The giant Himalayan range
Frozen range in Alaska
The king of all mountains, Mt. Everest
The Bolivian Andes
Mir Mine also called Mirny Mine is a former open pit diamond mine located in Mirny, Eastern Siberia, Russia. At the time of its closing in 2004, the mine was 525 meters deep and 1,200 meters across making it the second largest excavated hole in the world, after Bingham Canyon Mine. The hole is so big that airspace above the mine is closed for helicopters because of incidents in which they were sucked in by the downward air flow.
Mining began on 1957, in extremely harsh climate conditions. The Siberian winter lasted seven months which froze the ground, making it hard to mine. During the brief summer months, permafrost would become mud turning the entire mining operation into a land of sludge. Buildings had to be raised on piles, so that they would not sink. The main processing plant had to be built on better ground, found 20 km away from the mine. The winter temperatures were so low that car tires and steel would shatter and oil would freeze. During the winter, workers used jet engines to burn through the layer of permafrost or blasted it with dynamite to get access to the underlying kimberlite. The entire mine had to be covered at night to prevent the machinery from freezing.
During its peak years of operation, the mine produced 10 million carats of diamond per year, of which a relatively high fraction (20%) were of gem quality. This worried De Beers company, which at that time was distributing most of the world’s diamonds. The company was forced to buy larger and larger shipments of high-quality Russian diamonds in order to control the market price. For De Beers, Mir was a puzzling mystery. The mine’s enormous output was not consistent with the relatively small size of the mine. By the 1970s, when the Mir should have been producing smaller and smaller quantities of diamonds, the Soviets were producing an increasing quantity of gem diamonds. Finally, in 1976, De Beers requested a tour of the Mir mine to satisfy their curiosity. Permission was granted, but the Russians kept delaying the visit and by the time the team of delegates reached the Mir mine, their visas were about to expire, so that they could only have 20 minutes at the Mir mine. The visit did little to shed light on the mystery of the Mir’s diamond production.
After the collapse of the USSR, in the 1990s, the mine was operated by a few local companies until 2004 when the mine was permanently closed.
The Southern Namib desert is home to some of the tallest and most spectacular dunes of the world, ranging in color from pink to vivid orange. These dunes continue right to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The cold waters of the sea brushing against the dunes of the Namib desert is one of the most surreal sights.
While the sea coast extends for hundreds of miles, one of the best places to see these dunes is at Swakopmund. Known as Swakop in Namibia, it is the country’s biggest coastal town and a mecca for Namibians on holiday. The city’s German origins are quite pronounced in beautiful old German Colonial buildings throughout the city, making an even starker contrast for this town sitting at the edge of the Namib Desert.
Hutterites (German: Hutterer) are a communal branch of Anabaptists who, like the Amish and Mennonites, trace their roots to the Radical Reformation of the 16th century. Since the death of their namesake Jakob Hutter in 1536, the beliefs of the Hutterites, especially living in a community of goods and absolute pacifism, have resulted in hundreds of years of odyssey through many countries. Nearly extinct by the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hutterites found a new home in North America. Over 125 years their population grew from 400 to around 42,000.
More young Hutterites are leaving the colonies and entering mainstream society. They succumb to the allure of money and materialism.
The mid-2004 location and number of the world’s 483 Hutterite colonies:
- Canada (347)
- Dariusleut (142): Alberta (109); Saskatchewan (31); British Columbia (2)
- Schmiedeleut (105): Manitoba (105)
- Lehrerleut (99): Alberta (69); Saskatchewan (30)
- United States (134)
- Schmiedeleut (69): South Dakota (53); Minnesota (9); North Dakota (7)
- Lehrerleut (44): Montana (44)
- Dariusleut (21): Montana (15); Washington (5); Oregon (1)
- Japan (1)
- Nigeria (1)
The Japanese Hutterite community does not consist of Hutterites of European descent, but ethnic Japanese who have adopted the same way of life and are recognized as an official colony. The inhabitants of this colony speak neither English nor German.
In similar fashion, a “neo-” Hutterite group, called the Bruderhof, was founded in Germany in 1920 by Eberhard Arnold. Arnold forged links with the North American Hutterites in the 1930s, continuing until 1990 when the Bruderhof were excommunicated due to a number of religious and social differences.
High Plains Drifter is a classic Eastwood movie from the early seventies. I think I have seen the movie 7 or 8 times. And every time I watch it I am mesmerized by that beautiful lake.
High Plains Drifter is a 1973 American Western film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood and produced by Robert Daley for The Malpaso Company and Universal Pictures. Eastwood plays a mysterious gunfighter hired by the residents of a corrupt frontier mining town to defend them against a group of criminals.
The film was shot on location on the shores of Mono Lake, California.
Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline soda lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in a basin that has no outlet to the ocean. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. These salts also make the lake water alkaline.
This desert lake has an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp that thrive in its waters, and provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp.
||15 km (9.3 mi)
||21 km (13 mi)
||45,133 acres (182.65 km2)
||17 m (56 ft)
||48 m (157 ft)
||2,970,000 acre·ft (3.66 km3)
||6,383 ft (1,946 m) above sea level
||Two major: Negit Island and Paoha Island; numerous minor outcroppings (including tufa rock formations). The lake’s water level is notably variable.
Clint riding into the town of Lago, on the shore of Mono Lake.
In the movie they paint the town red to try and disorient the killers who are on their way.
The movie set (town of Lago) in the first picture, and the same location with the town gone in the second.
Here are a few photos from south central Manitoba taken a few days ago in the middle of our winter. There is above average snow levels across the south of the province. The temperatures have also been very frigid.
Young snowmobilers speeding in the ditch. These young yahoos were doing 110 kms an hour. That is about 65 mph.
Passing on a windy highway in winter.
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania has a very unique appearance in relation to other giant mountains of the world. First of all the upper reaches of the mountain are not covered in ice and snow, and the sparse vegetation at the top give the mountain a dark chocolate colour. Second is the volcanic crater in the middle of the flat top. It reminds me of a big mound of chocolate sprinkled lightly with whip cream.
Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, is a dormant volcanic mountain in Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet above sea level (the Uhuru Peak/Kibo Peak).
Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 5,895 m (19,341 ft); Mawenzi 5,149 m (16,893 ft); and Shira 3,962 m (13,000 ft). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim.
Kilimanjaro is a large stratovolcano. Two of its three peaks, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct while Kibo (the highest peak) is dormant and could erupt again. The last major eruption has been dated to between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago.
Although it is dormant, Kibo has fumaroles that emit gas in the crater. Several collapses and landslides have occurred on Kibo in the past, one creating the area known as the Western Breach.
Northern Quebec and Ontario are very uninhabited. Hardly no lights whatsoever.
If you’ve ever wondered where — and why — earthquakes happen the most, look no further than a new map, which plots more than a century’s worth of nearly every recorded earthquake strong enough to at least rattle the bookshelves.
The map shows earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater since 1898; each is marked in a lightning-bug hue that glows brighter with increasing magnitude.
The overall effect is both beautiful and arresting, revealing the silhouettes of Earth’s tectonic boundaries in stark, luminous swarms of color.
The map’s maker, John Nelson, the user experience and mapping manager for IDV Solutions, a data visualization company, said the project offered several surprises.
“First, I was surprised by the sheer amount of earthquakes that have been recorded,” Nelson told OurAmazingPlanet. “It’s almost like you could walk from Seattle to Wellington [New Zealand] if these things were floating in the ocean, and I wouldn’t have expected that.”
In all, 203,186 earthquakes are marked on the map, which is current through 2003. And it reveals the story of plate tectonics itself.
The long volcanic seams where Earth’s crust is born appear as faint, snaking lines cutting through the world’s oceans. The earthquakes along these so-called spreading centers tend to be rather mild. The best studied spreading center, called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, bisects the Atlantic Ocean, on the right side of the image.
Its Pacific counterpart wanders along the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean, cutting a wide swath offshore of South America. Another spreading center makes a jog though the Indian Ocean and up through the Red Sea.
But one glance at the map shows that the real earthquake action is elsewhere. Subduction zones, the places where tectonic plates overlap and one is forced to dive deep beneath the other and into the Earth’s crushing interior — a process that generates the biggest earthquakes on the planet— stand out like a Vegas light show.
Nelson said this concept hit home particularly for the Ring of Fire, the vast line of subduction zones around the northern and western edge of the Pacific Ocean.
“I have a general sense of where it is, and a notion of plate tectonics, but when I first pulled the data in and started painting it in geographically, it was magnificent,” Nelson said. “I was awestruck at how rigid those bands of earthquake activity really are.”
That realization prompted one big decision about the map’s design, Nelson said. Unlike many maps made in the United States, this one is centered over the Pacific Ocean. “That looked like where the magic was happening,” Nelson said. California, a spot rattled by quakes where faults jolt horizontally, also shines brightly.
There are undoubtedly many earthquakes missing, given the dramatic change in scope and accuracy of seismological instruments from 1898 to the present day. Nelson said he saw a huge jump in the volume of data from the 1960s forward. Yet even without the complete catalog of earthquakes, the map provides a striking visual reference — even though none of the data are new.
All the earthquake information and maps are freely available on the Internet courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, university and state partners in California, and NASA.
“There’s nothing new about plotting earthquakes,” Nelson said. “It’s just presenting it in an interesting way.”
And although he was modest about his own role as a designer, Nelson emphasized the value of design in making data more engaging. The project was a follow-up to a recent map of more than 50 years of tornado tracks across the United States; he said both maps are designed to get people more interested in the larger phenomena behind them. “To get them to start asking questions,” Nelson said.
In short, a colorful map will grab people more than an Excel spreadsheet, even when both contain the same information.
“It seems almost superficial, but it’s true,” Nelson said. “If something is treated with thoughtful design, then it becomes better.”
I am very glad I don’t live in an earthquake zone.