September 20th, 2013

Things in heaven and earth

O day and night
, but this is wondrous strange!

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Case in point, the rainbow mountains of Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu, China:

The vivid mountains are the result of mineral deposits and red sandstone from over 24 million years ago. Layers formed on top of one another, creating the colorful patterns of rock strata.

Some of the photos may be color-enhanced (such as this one, perhaps?):


But this one is probably bona fide:


8 Responses to “Things in heaven and earth”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    Tai Chi or Taiji really spends a lot of time outdoors soaking up the environment.

    The foundational energy source is the air we all breathe in and out. While destruction is personified as yang, flexibility is personified as yin. In this world, there are forces and powers that are beyond human reach, thus yang harnesses that which we can harness and yin uses that which allows us to use it.

    Too much passivity, and you end up dead of starvation or somebody beating your skull in. Too much yang, and you end up as an exhausted nation too tired of war because the best generation all became casualties of it. Muscle bound steroids is a good example too of overpowered yang use. It’s so powerful, it becomes useless.

    This concept of harmony between the force of life and the force of death, though, was new to me. But when integrated into a martial art system that I could feel, it became much easier to comprehend. As much as the wind can be comprehended by feeling it on one’s skin.

  2. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    This one had me searching my memory banks for similar geologic formations here in the U.S. During the late 1950s I worked in the Rocky Mountain area doing field geology and saw some outcrops of similarly colored formations. There are outcrops of the Morrison Formation, the Wasatch Formation, and some that I can’t recall that have vividly colored layers such as these. However, these Chinese formations are notable for the extent of the exposed outcroppings, the sharp boundaries between layers, and the folding of the layers.

    The Morrison formation is quite a bit older: it dates from 156.3 ± 2 million years old at its base, to 146.8 ± 1 million years old at the top. The Morrison is famous for the dinosaur fossils found there. Dinosaur National Park in Utah is on the Morrison Formation.

    The Wasatch Formation is more comparative in age, but the Wasatch is mostly found in horizontal beds, that don’t display the color contrasts that the folded beds of the Rainbow Mountains show so well.

    I would guess that the Rainbow Mountains are mostly limey shale and soft sandstones that were laid down in shallow waters. Interesting how the colors change so evenly and suddenly. Evidence of climate changes? Nah, there weren’t any SUVs back then.

  3. Ruth H Says:

    You can see some vivid colors in Big Bend National Park, very much like these, with a little more green in spots. A very desolate, beautiful place. Like all of Texas there are different portions of that park that are very different from the other.

  4. Gary Says:

    These formations are quite striking.

    Fortunately, you don’t need to go all the way to China to see such “wondrous strange” sights. Utah is filled with such things in so many weird variations it’ll make your head spin. Below is just one example, but you’ll see hundreds of amazing things (mostly in the southern half of the state, containing Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and other national and state parks):

  5. neo-neocon Says:


    It does remind me a lot of Utah. I once spent about 2 weeks in Utah, and a great portion of that state is otherworldly, like another planet. Really extraordinary.

  6. Ymarsakar Says:

    On a sci fi level, that stuff always interested me.

  7. Gringo Says:

    Another example of geology uncovered is the Quebrada de Humahuaca in the northern Argentina province of Jujuy.

  8. Don Carlos Says:

    Waitaminnit, Gringo: Sajuaros in Jujuy?

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