When Earth Gets Weird: 19 Unusual Natural Phenomena

You might want to add stuff on your bucket list or you may just want to scroll and enjoy unusual natural phenomena around the world. Regardless of your motive, one thing’s for sure, mother nature always finds a way to surprise us.

1. Sailing Stones – Las Vegas, USA

unusual natural phenomena: large rocks moving on their own

In the desolate landscape of Death Valley, California, large stones seem to move mysteriously across the dry lakebed. No one had actually witnessed the movement so it remains an enigma, with some attributing it to strong winds and ice.

2. Fire rainbows

unusual natural phenomena: fire rainbows

Fire rainbows, also known as circumhorizontal arcs, create a stunning rainbow-like phenomenon in the sky when the sun is at a specific angle, and ice crystals in the clouds refract the sunlight. They’re bizarre, rare, and oh so cool in their vivid, horizontal rainbow appearance.

3. The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

unusual natural phenomena: Aurora Borealis

The Northern Lights are a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, primarily seen in the polar regions. They’re the direct result of the interaction between solar winds and Earth’s magnetic field. This is how we get those shimmering, colorful lights in the night sky that seem out of this world.

4. Fairy Circles

fairy circles

In the arid deserts of Namibia, circular patches of barren land, known as fairy circles, appear mysteriously. These circles, devoid of vegetation, have sparked debates and wild theories about their origin, from underground termites to UFOs. They’re also present to some extent in Pilbara, a dry region in the north of Western Australia.

5. Bioluminescent algae

Bioluminescent algae

Some coastal areas experience bioluminescent algae blooms, where the water glows with a natural, ethereal light at night. It’s a captivating sight, created by the bioluminescent properties of glowing algae in the water.

6. Marsh lights

marsh lights

In some wetland areas, marsh gas (methane) can spontaneously ignite, creating eerie, flickering blue flames that dance atop the water’s surface. It’s an unusual natural phenomena that’s quite rare, don’t expect this to happen all the time.

7. Snow rollers


Snow rollers are rare, cylindrical snow formations that occur when wind pushes soft, wet snow, causing it to roll and accumulate more snow along the way. These snow-covered cylinders are practically natural snow sculptures, they’re so darn cool to observe.

8. Light pillars

light pillars

These pillars create vertical beams of light that appear to extend into the sky, often during cold winter nights when ice crystals in the air reflect artificial light sources, such as streetlights or car headlights. The result is a breathtaking show that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.

9. Blood falls – Antarctica

blood falls

In Antarctica’s Taylor Glacier, a rare phenomenon occurs where red, iron-rich water oozes out from beneath the glacier’s ice, creating a striking contrast against the white landscape. It’s unsettling and unusual due to the “bloody” appearance.

10. Tidal bores

tidal bores

These ones occur in certain estuaries and rivers. When the incoming tide moves against the current of a river, it can create a sudden and powerful surge of water. This leads to the formation of a “bore,” a wall of water that travels upstream, against the flow of the river. Tidal bores are like nature’s version of a reverse river, challenging the usual direction of water flow.

11. Columnar basalt formations

Columnar basalt formationsThat was quite a mouthful. Columnar basalt formations, like the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, consist of hexagonal rock pillars that seem man-made but are entirely natural. These peculiar geological structures give the landscape an almost surreal appearance.

12. Catatumbo lightning – Venezuela

Catatumbo lightningWe’re talking about a unique natural phenomenon that occurs at the Catatumbo River in Venezuela. This display of continuous lightning happens due to a combination of factors, including warm winds from the Caribbean Sea colliding with the cold air from the Andes Mountains. The result is a constant and awe-inspiring electrical storm that can last for hours. More exactly, nine hours each day, up to 300 nights of the year, and you get roughly 28 lighting strikes per minute. This phenomenon has earned its place in the record books, with the Catatumbo Lightning often cited as one of the world’s most prolific sources of lightning.

13. Danxia landforms – China

Danxia landforms

Danxia landforms are a series of unique and stunning geological formations found in various parts of China. These landscapes are known for their vibrant and colorful rock formations, which have been shaped by natural forces like erosion and weathering over millions of years.

14. Spotted Lake – British Columbia, Canada

Spotted Lake - British Columbia

The high concentration of various minerals like magnesium sulfate, calcium, and sodium sulfates creates a surreal patchwork of spots, each with its distinct hue. This phenomenon transforms the lake into what appears to be a massive, spotted canvas, aka nature’s abstract art.

15. Lake Hillier – Middle Island, Australia

Lake Hillier

This vivid pink lake is a striking sight against the backdrop of the surrounding eucalyptus and paperbark trees. The lake’s stunning pink hue is due to the presence of a specific type of microorganism, Dunaliella Salina, a micro algae, along with high salinity levels.

16. Fallstreak hole

Fallstreak holeA Fallstreak hole, also known as a hole-punch cloud, is a fascinating atmospheric phenomenon. It occurs when supercooled water droplets in high-altitude clouds freeze into ice crystals, creating a round or oval gap in the cloud cover. These striking holes in the sky can vary in size and shape so you always get a different look.

Recommended reading next: 21 Weird Conventions: Strange Hobbies Bringing People Together

17. Frozen methane bubbles

Frozen methane bubbles

Such a fascinating sight. These bubbles consist of methane gas that rises from the seafloor or lakebed. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, can get trapped just below the frozen water surface.

18. Lake Natron – Tanzania

Lake Natron - TanzaniaLake Natron in Tanzania is a surreal and desolate salt lake, famous for its blood-red color, which is a result of the high salt and mineral content in the water. These conditions create a harsh environment for most aquatic life, but Lake Natron is a crucial breeding ground for flamingos, who thrive on the algae and invertebrates that can survive in its unique waters.

19. River of Five Colors – Colombia

River of Five Colors - Colombia

Also known as Cano Cristales, this river is anything but boring. During the wet season, the river’s waters are a mesmerizing blend of red, blue, green, black, and yellow hues. These colors are a result of various aquatic plants, minerals, and the unique conditions of the riverbed.

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