Top 10 Largest Natural Arches

A natural arch is a geological formation where rocky cliffs subject to erosion from the sea, rivers or weathering forms a rock arch. Some natural arch has a stream of water flowing underneath, in which case the arch is called a natural bridge. The distinction between a bridge and arch is somewhat arbitrary. The Natural Arch and Bridge Society identifies a bridge as a subtype of arch that is primarily water-formed. By contrast, the Dictionary of Geological Terms defines a natural bridge as a "natural arch that spans a valley of erosion." The correct method to measure an arch is also debated because of which the reported measurements often varies from source to source. Under these circumstances to prepare an irrefutable list of the world’s largest or longest or highest natural arch is impossible. Amidst this confusion new discoveries and potential candidates always keep popping up around the globe.

Natural arches are abundant in the deserts of Utah and Arizona in the United States. The Arches National Park in eastern Utah contains the largest concentration of significant natural arches in the world. As many as 2000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations are found in this region.

The following is a list of 10 biggest natural arches from around the world according to the Natural Arch and Bridge Society.

Fairy Bridge or Xianren Bridge, China

Xianren Bridge, also known as Fairy Bridge, is the world's largest natural arch with a span measuring 400 feet or 120 meter. The bridge is carved through the limestone karst by the Buliu River. It is located about 40 km northwest of Fengshan in northwestern Guangxi Province, China.

Until recently, Fairy Bridge has been virtually unknown outside of China. The Natural Arch and Bridge Society (NABS) first became aware of it in 2009 when a geologist was searching the area using Google Earth and spotted what looked like a large natural bridge spanning a river. This was quickly confirmed by a Panoramio photo linked to Google Earth, taken by the Chinese photographer. Estimates using Google Earth and other photos suggested that the span might be the largest in the world. After a failed attempt, the bridge was successfully reached and measured in 2010 by a NABS team.

Jiangzhou Immortal Bridge, China

Jiangzhou Immortal Bridge is located about 2 km east of the village of Jiangzhou in Guangxi Province, China, about 30 km south of Fengshan. It is a principal feature of the Xianren Natural Bridge Tourism Area, which is a southern unit of the Leye-Fengshan National Geopark. A paved road and a river pass under the bridge, as do some utility lines.

The actual length of the bridge is a matter of controversy due to conflicting information about the arch. An upper bound for the span can be placed at about 340 feet, which would indeed make the span the second longest in the world, and a lower bound can be placed at about 280 feet, which would make it very close to the spans of Landscape and Kolob arches in the U.S.

Landscape Arch, USA

Landscape Arch is located in the Devils Garden section of Arches National Park in Utah, the US. Landscape. The Landscape Arch is considerably old and almost near the end of its lifecycle. In its thinnest section the arch is only 6 feet thick, yet it supports a span of rock 290 feet long. The arch could collapse at any time. Of course, this means it could collapse tomorrow or within the next couple of centuries.

In 1991, a 73-foot slab of rock fell out from underneath the thinnest section of the span. The rock that fell, however, was probably not structurally important to the arch. In fact, by reducing the weight of suspended rock, the arch was probably strengthened. In 1995, another 47-foot mass of rock fell from the arch followed by yet another 30-foot rock fall the same year. Due to these events the Park Service has closed the loop trail that once led underneath the arch.

Kolob Arch, USA

Kolob Arch is located in Zion National Park, the US. The arch measures 287 feet, just 3 feet short of the span of Landscape Arch.

Located deep in the backcountry of Zion National Park, the Kolob Arch is not easily seen. Because of its remote location and virtual inaccessibility, Kolob Arch for years has challenged cowboys, rangers, hikers, climbers, and photographers alike. For most of the twentieth century many believed that Kolob was in fact the world’s largest freestanding arch, leading to years of debate and the motivation for various parties of adventurous thrill seekers to climb on and secure a measurement.

Aloba Arch, Chad

Aloba Arch is one of the most magnificent natural arches in the world, located in the Ennedi Range of the Sahara Desert in Chad. This is not a natural bridge, but a very large alcove arch. Aloba Arch has a span of approximately 250 feet, but perhaps more striking than the span, is the sheer height of the arch. At 120 meters (394 feet) tall, it towers over the more famous Rainbow Bridge and is undoubtedly one of the tallest known arches in the world.

Morning Glory Natural Bridge, USA

Morning Glory Natural Bridge is located in Negro Bill Canyon near Moab, Utah. Morning Glory is not actually a natural bridge, but is instead a very large alcove arch. The arch's span is 243 feet, and is a mere 15 feet from the cliff wall so it is not as spectacular or photogenic as some other arches in the area. Nevertheless, at a height of 75 feet, it is a very impressive piece of rock.

Gaotun Natural Bridge, China

Gaotun Natural Bridge (Tiansheng Qiao) is a waterfall natural bridge located at the bank of the Fulu river, not far from the town of Li Ping, Guizhou Region in southern China. It is one of the major attractions of the Bazhou He Scenic Area, an area developed for tourism. The arch measures 240 feet.

Rainbow Bridge, USA

Rainbow Bridge is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the largest natural bridge in the world. The Gunniess World Records 2008 even lists Rainbow Bridge as the highest natural arch in the world, which is incorrect. The Rainbow Bridge spans 275 feet and has a height of 246 feet. There are a fair number of natural arches that exceed Rainbow Bridge both in height and length, topped by Tushuk Tash with a height of 1200 feet.

Rainbow Bridge is one of the most accessible of the large arches of the world, as it can be reached by a two-hour boat ride on Lake Powell from either of two marinas near Page, Arizona, followed by a short mile-long walk from the National Park wharf in Bridge Canyon or by hiking several hour overland from a trailhead on the south side of Lake Powell.

Sipapu Natural Bridge, USA

Sipapu Bridge is located in the Natural Bridges National Monument in the U.S. state of Utah. The span of Sipapu Natural Bridge was originally reported at 268 feet in 1908, who also reported a height of 167 feet. However, a measurement by in 2007 using modern methods yielded a span of 225 ± 3 feet and a height of 144 ± 5 feet.

Sipapu can be viewed from a roadside viewpoint but is best viewed from a short hiking trail that leads down to its base from the canyon rim. Since the closure of the trail leading under Landscape Arch due to safety concerns, and the voluntary prohibition placed on passing under Rainbow Bridge in deference to Navajo and Hopi spiritual beliefs, Sipapu is now the longest natural arch in the world to have an active trail beneath it that visitors may pass under, affording spectacular views of the underside of the arch.

Stevens Arch, USA

This spectacular arch is located in Escalante Canyon at its junction with Stevens Canyon, just upstream from Coyote Gulch. It’s approximately 220 feet (67 m) wide and 160 feet (49 m) high dominating the skyline as you hike along the river bottom.

Other notable arches not included in this list are Shiptons Arch or Tushuk Tash in China (highest natural arch at 1200 feet), Hazarchishma Natural Bridge in Afghanistan (211 feet), Outlaw Arch in Colorado (206 feet) and Snake Bridge in New Mexico (204 feet).


Mushroom Cloud Over Beijing

A strange cloud appeared last week in the skies over Beijing. Glowing like a huge "mushroom", similar to what is left after a nuclear explosion, it appeared over the town about seven o'clock, and hung for about an hour. In addition, from time to time spectacular lightning illuminated the great mass of cloud, presenting an apocalyptic picture reminiscent of movies such as “Independence Day” and “War of the Worlds”.

According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, it was just a giant cumulonimbus cloud, and its unusual shape was formed due to the fact that the cloud initially developed vertically, but after meeting with warmer layers of air began to grow horizontally.


Press Release of UFO-shaped object in Bottom of the Baltic Sea

Skeptics expected that a deep-water dive would debunk the a slew of extra-terrestrial theories surrounding an unidentified object sitting at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

But the Swedish expedition team that took the plunge surfaced with more questions than answers - and certainly no solution to its origins.

The divers found that the object, which some have likened to the Millennium Falcon because of its unusual round outline, was raised about 10-13 feet above the seabed and curved in at the sides, giving it a mushroom shape.

Hefty trajectory: The Swedish diving team noted a 985-foot flattened out 'runway' leading up to the object, implying that it skidded along the path before stopping but no true answers are clear

Odd shape: The object which has a 60-meter diameter is said to be raised about 10-13 feet off the seabed and the divers compared it to the shape of a mushroom

They added that the object has 'rounded sides and rugged edges'

'First we thought this was only stone, but this is something else,' diver Peter Lindberg said in a press release.

At the center of the object, which has a 60-meter diameter, has an 'egg shaped hole leading into it from the top'.

Surrounding the hole, they found a strange, unexplained rock formation. Adding fuel to the speculative fire, they said that the rocks looked 'like small fireplaces' and the 'stones were covered in something resembling soot'.

'Since no volcanic activity has ever been reported in the Baltic Sea the find becomes even stranger,' Mr Lindberg continued.

A brief video clip of the dive was released to Swedish-language paper Expressen and can be viewed on Gizmodo.

More questions: The divers found soot-covered rocks that encircled an egg-shaped hole that went into the object at its center, and have no idea what any of it means

No clarification: The divers made their sonar discovery public but waited a year to make the dive because they had to gather enough funding and base off of weather conditions

Landing spot: The exact coordinates of the object have not been released, but it is confirmed to be somewhere at the bottom of the Botnia Gulf in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden

'As laymen we can only speculate how this is made by nature, but this is the strangest thing I have ever experienced as a professional diver.'

The soot also proved cause for concern for Mr Lindberg's colleague on the Ocean X explorer team, Stefan Hogeborn.

'During my 20-year diving career, including 6,000 dives, I have never seen anything like this. Normally stones don’t burn,' Mr Hogeborn said in the release.

'I can’t explain what we saw, and I went down there to answer questions, but I came up with even more questions.'

The Ocean Explorer team's sonar pictures show that the object is a massive cylinder with a 60 metre diameter and a 400 metre-long tail deep in the Baltic Sea. A similar disk-shaped object was also found about 200 metres away

Unidentified treasure: Shipwreck divers are perplexed by the oddly-shaped object that they found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea

The sonar picture of the unidentified object resembles the famed Star Wars ship the Millennium Falcon

Another find that they saw in person for the first time was the 985-foot trail that they described 'as a runway or a downhill path that is flattened at the seabed with the object at the end of it'.

The object was first found this month last year, but because of a lack of funding and bad timing, they have were not able to pull a team together to see for themselves - just the strange, metallic outline, and a similar disk-shaped object about 200 metres away.

As it was before the recent dive, the story behind the object is anyone's guess.

'We've heard lots of different kinds of explanations, from George Lucas's spaceship - the Millennium Falcon - to "it's some kind of plug to the inner world," like it should be hell down there or something,' Mr Lindberg said.

Speaking to Fox News, he said: 'We don’t know whether it is a natural phenomenon, or an object. We saw it on sonar when we were searching for a wreck from World War I. This circular object just turned up on the monitor.

While the Ocean Explorer team is understandably excited about their potentially earth-shattering find, others are slightly more sceptical and are questioning the accuracy of the sonar technology.

In the past, such technology has confused foreign objects with unusual- but natural- rock formations.

Part of the trouble they face, however, is that they have no way of telling what is inside the supposed cylinder- whether it is filled with gold and riches or simply aged sediment particles.

They're hoping for the former, and history seems to be in their favour.

The Baltic Sea is a treasure trove for shipwreck hunters, as an estimated 100,000 objects are thought to line the cold sea's floor.

The company have created a submarine that they hope will appeal to tourists and wannabe shipwreck hunters who will pay to take a trip down to the bottom of the Baltic Sea to see for themselves.

Tourist trips: Diver Peter Lindberg is hoping to take wealthy tourists down in this submarine to see the object


Mickey Mouse-shaped craters on Mercury

This may sound a bit goofy, but there's a crater formation in outer space that looks remarkably like a cartoon character.

There's something very familiar about the big ears, the smile, the snub nose and small eyes that most children have seen on a visit to Disney's Magic Kingdom.

But the startling likeness to the beloved figure of Mickey Mouse is out of this world - in fact it has been pictured 48 million miles from Earth on the planet Mercury.

Cartoon caper: A rock formation on the planet Mercury which has a startling resemblance to Mickey Mouse

Disney hero: Mickey Mouse's silhouette is famous the world over

The image was taken by the U.S. spaceship Messenger which has snapped more than 100,000 pictures since it went into orbit round Mercury in March last year.

Seven of the spaceship's scientific instruments are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet.

One of the instruments has globally mapped the planet in high-resolution monochrome and colour images uncovering a new view of Mercury and shedding light on the planet's geologic history.

It is the first time a spaceship has ever orbited the planet and now Messenger is on a year-long science mission - shame it isn't going to Pluto where perhaps they might find Mickey's faithful dog!!

Beloved: The iconic Disney cartoon character Mickey Mouse outside the Magic Kingdom