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10 Fascinating Natural Phenomena You've Never Seen

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posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 10:16 PM
Aurora Borealis

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful events to occur in our world, the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, has both astounded and amazed people since it was first discovered. This phenomenon ocurrs when the sun gives off high-energy charged particles (also called ions) that travel out into space at speeds of 300 to 1200 kilometres per second. A cloud of such particles is called a plasma. The stream of plasma coming from the sun is known as the solar wind. As the solar wind interacts with the edge of the earth’s magnetic field, some of the particles are trapped by it and they follow the lines of magnetic force down into the ionosphere, the section of the earth’s atmosphere that extends from about 60 to 600 kilometers above the earth’s surface. When the particles collide with the gases in the ionosphere they start to glow, producing the spectacle that we know as the auroras, northern and southern.

Mammatus Clouds

Also known as mammatocumulus, meaning "bumpy clouds", they are a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud. Composed primarily of ice, Mammatus Clouds can extend for hundreds of miles in each direction, while individual formations can remain visibly static for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. True to their ominous appearance, mammatus clouds are often harbingers of a coming storm or other extreme weather system.

Red Tides

More correctly known as an algal bloom, the so-called Red tide is a natural event in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column and can convert entire areas of an ocean or beach into a blood red color. This phenomena is caused by high levels of phytoplankton accumulating to form dense, visible clouds near the surface of the water. While some of these can be relatively harmless, others can be harbingers of deadly toxins that cause the deaths of fish, birds and marine mammals. In some cases, even humans have been harmed by red tides though no human exposure are known to have been fatal. While they can be fatal, the constituent phytoplankton in ride tides are not harmful in small numbers.


These amazing ice spikes, generally known as penitentes due to their resemblance to processions of white-hooded monks, can be found on mountain glaciers and vary in size dramatically: from a few centimetres to 5 metres in height. Initially, the sun’s rays cause random dimples on the surface of the snow. Once such a dimple is formed, sunlight can be reflected within the dimple, increasing the localized sublimation. As this accelerates, deep troughs are formed, leaving peaks of ice standing between them.

Sailing Stones

The mysterious moving stones of the packed-mud desert of Death Valley have been a center of scientific controversy for decades. Rocks weighing up to hundreds of pounds have been known to move up to hundreds of yards at a time. Some scientists have proposed that a combination of strong winds and surface ice account for these movements. However, this theory does not explain evidence of different rocks starting side by side and moving at different rates and in disparate directions. Moreover, the physics calculations do not fully support this theory as wind speeds of hundreds of miles per hour would be needed to move some of the stones.


Supercell is the name given to a continuously rotating updraft deep within a severe thunderstorm (a mesocyclone) and looks downright scary. They are usually isolated storms, which can last for hours, and sometimes can split in two, with one storm going to the left of the wind and one to the right. They can spout huge amounts of hail, rain and wind and are often responsible for tornados, though they can also occur without tornados. Supercells are often carriers of giant hailstones and although they can occur anywhere in the world they’re most frequent in the Great Plains of the US. (photo by Mark Humpage)

Fire Whirls

A fire whirl, also known as fire devil or fire tornado, is a rare phenomenon in which a fire, under certain conditions --depending on air temperature and currents--, acquires a vertical vorticity and forms a whirl, or a tornado-like effect of a vertically oriented rotating column of air. Fire whirls often occur during bush fires. Vertical rotating columns of fire form when the air currents and temperature are just right, creating a tornado-like effect. They can be as high as 30 to 200 ft tall and up to 10 ft wide but only last a few minutes, although some can last for longer if the winds are strong.

Ice Circles

A rare phenomenon usually only seen in extremely cold countries, scientists generally accept that Ice Circles are formed when surface ice gathers in the center of a body of water rather than the edges. A slow moving river current can create a slow turning eddy, which rotates, forming an ice disc. Very slowly the edges are ground down until a gap is formed between the eddy and the surrounding ice. These ice circles have been seen with diameters of over 500 feet and can also at times be found in clusters and groups at different sizes. (Photo by Brook Tyler)

Gravity Waves

The undulating pattern of a Gravity Wave is caused by air displaced in the vertical plain, usually as a result of updrafts coming off the mountains or during thunderstorms. A wave pattern will only be generated when the updraft air is forced into a stable air pocket. The upward momentum of the draft triggers into the air pocket causes changes in the atmosphere, altering the fluid dynamics. Nature then tries to restore the fluid changes within the atmosphere, which present in a visible oscillating pattern within the cloud. (Photo by: NASA)


"The Hum" is the common name of a series of phenomena involving a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming noise not audible to all people. Hums have been reported in various geographical locations. In some cases a source has been located. A well-known case was reported in Taos, New Mexico, and thus the Hum is sometimes called the Taos Hum. They have been reported all over the world, especially in Europe: a Hum on the Big Island of Hawaii, typically related to volcanic action, is heard in locations dozens of miles apart. The Hum is most often described as sounding somewhat like a distant idling diesel engine. Difficult to detect with microphones, its source and nature are unknown.


[edit on 31-8-2009 by phi1618]

[edit on 31-8-2009 by phi1618]

posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 10:19 PM
saw this online and thought i would share this with everyone on ATS, its really amazing some of the ones listed in the OP, personally i have never seen the ice circles or seen spinning ice before. Really amazing stuff from mother nature.

posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 10:32 PM
Absolutely I appreciate You sharing them. Some I've seen, and some I'm not sure on..........the hums I just don't know whether they're natural....... The rest was fricken awesome.


posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 10:36 PM
reply to post by sanchoearlyjones

yea i agree, the dancing flame reminds me of the old meitreya video lol.

posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 10:47 PM
I've never seen any clouds like that; even in snow country so those were neat. Speaking oddities, and what'tha's... When out in the woods, and on clear nights a Person can see a lot of anomalies... Your thread kinda reminded me of that.

posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 10:51 PM
reply to post by sanchoearlyjones

ive seen very few of these personally, to me they would certainly seem like anomaly's lol

never seen those clouds, they look really surreal, almost like a painting or some bade 3D

posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 10:58 PM
Ive seen the Aurora Borealis and I didnt have to go to the poles inorder to see it!

It was around the shore of Georgian Bay, located along a great lake, Superior to be exact. Im not sure how it happened, but it was the coldest I have ever experience and for some reason we were able to see the Aurora, it looked like a green cloud, granted it was very very faint and im not sure how it was this far south, but it happened. You can believe me or not. That area is located at one of the corners of the great lakes triangle.

Ive also witnessed the Penitentes phenomenon although it wasnt as wide scale as the pictures shows, its pretty common when you head further north, but only in patches of 10 feet or so near the bay.


great post OP.

The sailing stones blow my mind.

posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 11:28 PM
reply to post by

yea those are really cool, kinda reminded me about that scene in pirates of the Caribbean when his ship sails on the sand.

posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 11:30 PM
Awesome work as usual

Some of those I have had the pleasure of seeing, other I havent....obviously the ice whirls being one of the I haven

posted on Aug, 31 2009 @ 11:39 PM
reply to post by OzWeatherman

thanks ! ;P

the ice whirls where my favorite, looks like something straight out of the x files.

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 12:30 AM
Mammatus Clouds, Supercells, Fire Whirls, and the Gravity Waves, are all pretty common in the Great State of Oklahoma. It's truly awesome, and I forget sometimes that people in other parts of the world don't see this kind of phenomenon.

We had a crew of folks come to my old call center from Vegas, and they were tripped when it started snowing
Most of these guys were in their mid 20's and had never seen it snow. Cracked me up, but hey, if you don't get to see it, you look at it with a child's eyes when you do.

Great post, and great pics

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 12:35 AM
the wonders of this earth are truly magnificent

i really hope more people see the things in this thread

the red tides really blow my mind by making me think of the story of moses

im not a religious person, but the red tides sure give a interesting twist on the story of moses making the waters run blood, gives a lot of credibility to the situation

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 03:34 AM
Oh wow! Now i would love to see some of them things in my lifetime, the joys of mother nature (I hope the graivty waves are)

But to be honest if I perosnally saw a blood red sea then i would most likley freak out.

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 05:45 AM
wow what a thread,i loved the clouds,i haven't seen anything like that before.the aurora borealis is something i would like to see sometime in my life,the ice whirls are amazing,phi1618 was right it's like something out of the x-files.
awesome work

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 07:47 AM
.... The tatooed face guy in the hum vid was what really got me... Why oh Why.. ?

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 08:00 AM
Amazing photos...some of them I have seen, the clouds especially, as previously stated they are not so rare in Oklahoma.

although I have never seen a super cell in person and am thankful for that.

I hope to one day venture out and see the "northern lights"

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 08:02 AM

Originally posted by sanchoearlyjones
I've never seen any clouds like that; even in snow country so those were neat. Speaking oddities, and what'tha's... When out in the woods, and on clear nights a Person can see a lot of anomalies... Your thread kinda reminded me of that.

Out here in the southwest (New Mexico and west Texas) we get clouds like that in the late summer months...Esp the super cells... down in the southeastern part of our state where Carlsbad Caverns are... the super cells often make softball sized hail... rains so hard even with the wipers turned to high speed you cant see past the front of your car. and it gets real cold... as in make you shiver cold... pretty to watch from afar as you see lighting dancing in the upper part of the clouds like fireworks...

The other ones that look like cotton balls, see them and you can bet there's gonna be a tornado somewhere close

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 10:07 AM
reply to post by phi1618

Great post phi1618! I saw a post like this recently here on ATS, but this one has some different phenomena. I have seen Red Tide when I was in the US Navy. I knew that it could be dangerous for marine life, so I mentioned it to my Chief, but he said it was nothing to worry about. He was right about that particular happening. Of course he would know (he's an old salt). Thanks for these images and information.

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 10:31 AM
Nature = Awesome!

Thanks for sharing this!

posted on Sep, 1 2009 @ 10:48 AM
I don't know if anyone's mentioned this before, but is it possible that the "hum" is actually the noise coming from underground installations? You may have heard similar hums when near or inside a large building - the noise of tube lights, fans, A/C units, electricity lines, etc. Some of these locations correlate to known/suspected bases in the same areas, e.g New Mexico and Arizona. Just a thought.

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