The Saar Loop at Mettlach

The Saar River rises in the Vosges mountains on the border of Alsace and Lorraine, in France, then flows northward through western Germany to its confluence with Mosel river, near Trier. Within Germany the Saar River pursues a winding course until it reaches a barrier in the form of Hunsrück, a low mountain range made of hard quartzite rock. Quartzite is a hard, metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression. The river, unable to carve a way through the rocks, makes a full 180-degree turn and cuts a deep U-shaped gorge through the thickly wooded mountains. This remarkable hairpin bend located above Mettlach is called the Saar Loop or Saarschleife in German, and is one of the most famous sights of Saarland. The river flows parallel for a long stretch in the opposite direction before turning left and continuing its northward journey towards Mosel river.

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Shark Breach at Bora Bora

The super luxurious resort on the South Pacific island of Bora Bora is renown for tranquil beaches and unmatched beauty.  But something sinister seems to have occurred a few hours ago according to sketchy reports coming in via twitter.

An anomalous high tide allowed ocean fish that usually can’t get into the island’s lagoon to swim into the usually safe swimming area for the well heeled tourists. A weeks stay for two costs $11,000 American.

Regular action at Bora Bora

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Due to this rogue high tide phenomenon, the dreaded and deadly Great White Shark went hunting in the lagoon.

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Preliminary reports are that there may have been casualties. If the twitter photos just received below are any indication, there had to be casualties.

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The above is a fake news story that I couldn’t resist including in the blog after watching a Sharknado Movie Marathon. Believe it or not I just watched six Sharknado movies in a row. I am currently a Sharkmaniac!

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Check out this earlier blog: https://markozen.com/2017/07/27/shark-week-in-the-peg/

The Cave of Swallows

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The Cave of Swallows, also called the Cave of the Swallows (Spanish: Sótano de las Golondrinas), is an open air pit cave in the Municipality of Aquismón, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. The elliptical mouth, on a slope of karst, is 49 by 62 m wide and is undercut around all of its perimeter, widening to a room approximately 303 by 135 meters (994 by 442 ft) wide. The floor of the cave is a 333-meter (1092 ft) freefall drop from the lowest side of the opening, with a 370-meter (1,214 ft) drop from the highest side, making it the largest known cave shaft in the world, the second deepest pit in Mexico and perhaps the 11th deepest in the world.

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The cave is a popular vertical caving destination. Cavers anchor their ropes on the low side, where bolts have been installed in the rock and the area is clear of obstructions. Rappelling to the floor can take up to an hour. Climbing back out may take from forty minutes to more than two hours. A person without a parachute would take almost ten seconds to freefall from the mouth to the floor, hence the pit is also popular with extreme sports enthusiasts for BASE jumping. An average-sized hot air balloon has been navigated through the 160-foot (49 m) wide opening and landed on the floor below. BASE jumpers can get out in about 10 minutes using a winch.

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National Geographic Landscape Photos 2018

A hiker greets the morning in Yosemite Valley, California. Your Shot photographer Eric Harris says, “The adrenaline from standing on the edge of a 1,000-foot cliff helps me wake up.”

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In Nazaré, Portugal, an adventurous man crosses a slackline as waves crash around him. The beaches of Nazaré are known for their extremely high waves, influenced by a deep undersea canyon just off the coast.

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A worker cleans windows at the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—the tallest building in the world. Taken in February, the photograph illustrates the low-level winter clouds that gather at sunrise.

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The Chinese municipality of Chongqing is home to some 30 million people in southwest China. With more than 100 days of fog a year, Chongqing is nicknamed Fog City—and appropriately, its sister city in the United States is Seattle.

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“This iconic maple seems to be on every photographer’s bucket list to photograph, including mine,” says Your Shot photographer Holly Fischer. The famous tree stands in the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. “It is just a simply stunning example of Mother Nature’s perfect brilliance,” Fischer says.

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The sun rises behind Abraham Lake in the Canadian Rockies. Fluctuating water levels make ice conditions on the lake unpredictable—even in winter.

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Sunlight shines into the water as a diver swims in a cenote in Mexico. “It’s an amazing and unique experience in the life of a underwater photographer,” says Your Shot photographer Fabrice Guerin. “The mysticism, beauty, and exuberance of these underwater landscapes make me feel like I discovered another world.”

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Years and years of erosion have formed this meandering sandstone canyon in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Below, vegetation thrives on the banks of the river that has cut through the stone for so long.

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Leaves turn into an autumnal rainbow along the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire. “This is my favorite place on the whole scenic route,” says Your Shot photographer Manish Mamtani. “I always fly my drone here to capture the curve of the road and moving cars.”

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In far northern Xinjiang, China, herders guide camels, sheep, and cattle to new pastures, where they’ll graze during the summer months. Summer in the area is warm, but very dry.

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Early morning fog sweeps over northwestern New Mexico, where Shiprock stands 1,583 feet tall. The formation holds special significance to the Navajo people, who govern the land surrounding it.

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Green space nestles between enormous apartment complexes in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of the most crowded places on earth, with more than 7 million people living in 427 square miles.

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The sun sets over Grand Falls on the Little Colorado River in Arizona. “This view shows the effect of summer rains over the desert,” explains Your Shot photographer Bernhard Michaelis, “resulting in muddy flows which give the falls another name: Chocolate Falls.”

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These limestone towers off the coast of Victoria, Australia, are known as the Twelve Apostles. It’s a bit of a misnomer, though—there are only eight, after a ninth collapsed in 2005.

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Out of the Kīlauea Volcano on the island of Hawai’i, a fountain of lava streams into the ocean. When the hot lava hits the cool waters, an explosive reaction sends rocks and debris flying.

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Is That Snow?

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White Sands National Monument is a United States national monument located in the state of New Mexico on the north side of Route 70 about 16 miles (26 km) southwest of Alamogordo in western Otero County and northeastern Doña Ana County. The monument is situated at an elevation of 4,235 feet (1,291 m) in the mountain-ringed Tularosa Basin and comprises the southern part of a 275 sq mi (710 km2) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. The gypsum dune field is the largest of its kind on Earth.

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The idea of creating a national park to protect the white sands formation dates to 1898 when a group from El Paso proposed the creation of Mescalero National Park. The plan called for a game hunting preserve, however, which conflicted with the idea of preservation held by the Department of the Interior, and the plan failed. In 1921–22, Albert Bacon Fall, United States Secretary of the Interior and owner of a large ranch in Three Rivers northeast of the dune field, promoted the idea of an “all-year national park” that, unlike more northerly parks, would be open even in the winter. This idea ran into a number of difficulties and did not succeed. Tom Charles, an Alamogordo insurance agent and civic booster, was influenced by Fall’s ideas. By emphasizing the economic benefits, Charles was able to mobilize enough support to have the national monument created.

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Gypsum rarely occurs as sand because it is water-soluble. Rain usually dissolves gypsum and rivers then carry it to the sea. The Tularosa Basin has no outlet to the sea, so it traps rain that dissolves gypsum from the surrounding San Andres and Sacramento Mountains. The rainwater either sinks into the ground, or forms shallow pools that subsequently dry out and leave gypsum on the surface in a crystalline form called selenite. Groundwater that flows out of the Tularosa Basin flows south into the Hueco Basin. During the last ice age, a lake now called Lake Otero covered much of the basin. When it dried out, a large flat area of selenite crystals remained, which is named the Alkali Flat. Lake Lucero, a dry lake bed which occasionally fills with water, is located in the southwest corner of the park, at one of the lowest points of the basin.

The ground in the Alkali Flat and along Lake Lucero’s shore is covered with selenite crystals that measure up to three feet (1 m). Weathering and erosion eventually break the crystals into sand-size grains that are carried away by the prevailing winds from the southwest, forming the white dunes. The dunes constantly change shape and slowly move downwind. Since gypsum is water-soluble, the sand that composes the dunes may dissolve and cement together after rain, forming a layer of sand that is more solid, which increases the wind resistance of the dunes. The increased resistance does not prevent dunes from quickly covering the plants in their path. Some species of plants, however, can grow fast enough to avoid being buried by the dunes.

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