Top 11 Unusual Caves in the World

A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. Caves form naturally by the weathering of rock and they often extend deep underground. Because of their uniqueness and beauty, some caves have become very interesting places for tourists and photographers worldwide.

1. Sea Cave in Algarve, Portugal

This beautiful sea cave is located near Benagil Beach in the Algarve region of Portugal. As you can see the bottom of the cave is covered with fine sand, and on the roof there is a "window to the sky".

2. Crystal Cave, Iceland

This cave in the glacier ice is the result of glacial mill, or Moulin where rain and melt water on the glacier surface are channeled into streams that enter the glacier at crevices. The waterfall melts a hole into the glacier while the ponded water drains towards lower elevations by forming long ice caves with an outlet at the terminus of the glacier.

The fine grained sediments in the water along with wind blown sediments cause the frozen meltwater stream to appear in a muddy colour while the top of the cave exhibits the deep blue colour. Due to the fast movement of the glacier of about 1 m (3 ft) per day over uneven terrain, this ice cave cracked up at its end into a deep vertical crevice, called cerrac. This causes the indirect daylight to enter the ice cave from both ends resulting in homogeneous lighting of the ice tunnel.

The cave is accessible through a 22-foot (7 m) entrance on the shoreline. At the end it tapers to a tight squeeze no more than four feet high (1,2 m). Ice caves are in general unstable things and can collapse at any time. They are safe to enter only in winter when the cold temperatures harden the ice. Even so one could hear constant cracking sounds inside the cave. It was not because it was going to collapse but because the cave was moving along with the glacier itself. Each time the glacier moved a millimeter loud sounds could be heard.

3. Devetashka Cave, Bulgaria

Devetashka cave is one of the biggest caves in Bulgaria but it is most famous for its amazing history. It is also currently home to nearly 30,000 bats.

The man on the floor of the Devetashka cave

Devetashka cave is located 18 km (11mi) northeast of Lovech and 2 kilometers (1.2mi) away from the village of Devetaki. The cave is also known as Maarata or Oknata for its seven different-sized holes in the ceiling, through which sunlight penetrates and illuminates the central hall and part of its two fields.

Old building inside of entrance area

The entrance of the cave is 35 meters (115ft) wide and 30 meters (100ft) high. About 40 meters (130ft) after the entrance, the cave widens, forming a spacious hall with an area of 2,400 sqm (0.6 acres). The height of the hall is 60 meters (197ft); at some places it reaches 100 meters (330ft).

4. Glow Worm Caves, New Zealand

Waitomo, New Zealand is famous for one thing. Every year, heaps upon heaps of travelers come here to see the infamous glow worms that line the ceilings of the nearby caves. The glow worms emit a phosphorescent glow that shines from the roofs of the caves like a starry night.

The interesting thing about the glow worms is that they aren’t really glow worms. They’re fly larvae. And what glows? Well, that’s their waste and snot. The larva glow to attract prey into its threads by making the prey believe they are outdoors as the roof of a cave looks much like a starry night. Hungry larva glow brighter than ones that have just eaten. There are a couple of ways to see the glow worms. There’s the three hour black water tubing trip, the five hour trip that includes abseiling and climbing, or, if you like it easy, a boat.

5. Cueva de Arpea, Spain

Cueva de Arpea is located below the twisted rock layers in Aezkoa valley in northern Spain. That area is home to some truly amazing caves.

The cave is called in french "caverne d'harpea". It's believed to have been used as a refuge by ancient shepherds since old times.

6. Minnehaha Falls Cave, USA

Near where the Minnehaha Creek meets the Mississippi River, a 53 ft (16m) waterfall that freezes during the winter creates a temporary cave behind a wall of ice. Due to the extremely cold temperatures in the area during the winter months, the falls freeze, creating a dramatic cascade of ice that can last well into the spring.

Minnehaha Creek is located in Hennepin County, Minnesota that extends from Lake Minnetonka in the west and flows east for 22 miles through several suburbs west of Minneapolis and then through south Minneapolis. Including Lake Minnetonka, the watershed for the creek covers 181 square miles.

The creek might have been unremarkable except for the 53 foot (16m) Minnehaha Falls located near the creek's confluence with the Mississippi. The site is not far from Fort Snelling, one of the earliest white settlements in the region.

7. Fingal's Cave, UK

Fingal's Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, part of a National Nature Reserve owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It is formed entirely from hexagonally jointed basalt columns.

Its size and naturally arched roof, and the eerie sounds produced by the echoes of waves, give it the atmosphere of a natural cathedral. The cave's Gaelic name, An Uaimh Bhinn, means "the melodious cave".

The cave has a large arched entrance and is filled by the sea. Several local companies include a pass by the cave in sightseeing cruises from April to September. However, it is also possible to land elsewhere on the island and walk to the cave overland, where a row of fractured columns forms a walkway just above high-water level permitting exploration on foot.

8. Giant Crystal Cave, Mexico

Cave of the Crystals or Giant Crystal Cave is a cave connected to the Naica Mine 300 metres (980 ft) below the surface in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico. The main chamber contains giant selenite crystals (gypsum, CaSO4·2 H2O), some of the largest natural crystals ever found.

The cave's largest crystal found to date is 12 m (39 ft) in length, 4 m (13 ft) in diameter and 55 tons in weight. The cave is extremely hot with air temperatures reaching up to 58 °C (136 °F) with 90 to 99 percent humidity. The cave is relatively unexplored due to these factors. Without proper protection people can only endure approximately ten minutes of exposure at a time.

A group of scientists known as the Naica Project have been heavily involved in researching these caverns.

9. Cenote Ik Kil, Mexico

Ik Kil is a well known cave with no roof, or a sinkhole outside Pisté in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán, Mexico, It is located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula and is part of the Ik Kil Archeological Park near Chichen Itza. It is open to the public for swimming and is often included in bus tours.

This cave is open to the sky with the water level about 26 metres (85 ft) below ground level. There is a carved stairway down to a swimming platform. Ik Kil is about 60 metres (200 ft) in diameter and about 40 metres (130 ft) deep. There are vines which reach from the opening all the way down to the water along with small waterfalls. Also, there are black catfish which swim in the sinkhole.

10. Blue Lake Cave, Brazil

Mato Grosso do Sul region in Brazil (and especially the quiet town of Bonito) boasts many marvelous underground lakes: Gruta do Lago Azul, Gruta do Mimoso, Aquário Natural. The world famous "Gruta do Lago Azul” (Blue Lake Cave) is a natural monument whose interior is formed by stalactites, stalagmites and a huge and wonderful blue lake.

The beauty of the lake is something impressive. The Blue Lake Cave has a big variety of geological formation but impresses mainly for the deep blue colored water of its inside lake.

11. Blue Marble Caves, Chile

In Patagonia, South America, General Carrera Lake is shared by Argentina and Chile. But on the Chilean side of the beautiful emerald-green to turquoise-blue waters, there are breathtakingly beautiful marble caves carved into passageways and caverns.

These amazing marble formations were sculpted by erosion into three main marble formations: La Capilla (the Chapel), El Catedral (the Cathedral), and La Cueva (the Cave).

The impressive labyrinth of marble caves are large enough for a small boat to glide into.


Huanglong Scenic Area

Huanglong is located in the northwest part of Sichuan Province, China, 50 kilometers north-northwest of the capital Chengdu. This scenic area is studded with colorful pools of limestone formations, snow-clad mountains, diverse forest ecosystems, as well as waterfalls and hot springs. The area also has a population of endangered animals, including the giant panda and the Sichuan golden snub-nosed Monkey.

The major scenery in Huanglong is concentrated in the 3.6-kilometer long Huanglong Valley that includes snowy peaks and the easternmost glaciers in China. Due to its layered calcium carbonated deposit patterns, the valley resembles a golden dragon winding its way through the virgin forest and stone mountains. Along the valley are scattering numerous colorful ponds of different sizes and shapes, which are strewn with gold colored limestone deposit that shimmer in the sunlight. In fact, the name “Huanglong Valley” which means “Yellow Dragon Valley” in native tongue, comes from this illusion.

Thousands of years of geological evolution has sculpted Huanglong into numerous unique landscapes and geological landforms that you see here today. Glacial revolution, terrane structure, stratum of carbonic acid rock, tufa water and climatic conditions such as Arctic-alpine sun light have created this popular travertine landscape.

One of the greatest geologically interest is the extensive calcite deposition that has taken place. Algae and bacteria proliferate in a number of these pools, giving a wide range of colors from orange and yellow to green and blue. Other karst features include long limestone shoals, notably Liujinshan (Glazed Golden Fan) and Jinshatan (Golden Sand Beach), in Huanglonggou. These are extensive slopes of active limestone deposition, covered entirely by a thin layer of flowing water.

Huanglong has been noted since ancient times. A pair of small stone pagodas is found in the Yuya ponds at the head of Huanglong Valley. The Songpan County Chronicles recorded that Huanglong's three temples, one behind the other, were built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and attracted a large number of worshipers. Much of the landscape of Huanglong, notably around Huanglonggou, is important in local Tibetan religion, culture and folklore. There are many legends associated with various natural features in the area.

Because of its spectacular diverse forest eco-system, Huanglong Nature Reserve was enrolled as a world natural heritage site by UNESCO in 1992.



10 Highest Speed Trains in the World

While impressive compared to highway speeds, that’s nothing next to what real high speed rail can do. Among the fastest in the world, these High speed train  regularly top 200 mph and even crack above the 300 mph mark.

10. HSL 1

Country: Belgium
Top Speed: 186 mph
Engine: 25 kV 50 Hz

9. ETR-500

Country: Italy
Top Speed: 190 mph
Engine: 3 kV DC, 25 kV 50 Hz AC
Root: Bologna to Milan

8. Eurostar

Country: UK
Top Speed: 199 mph
Engine: 25 kV 50 Hz
Root: UK to France
Capacity: 900 passengers

7. AVE Talgo-350

Country: Spain
Top Speed: 205 mph
Engine: 25 kV 50 Hz
Root: Madrid to Barcelona, Madrid-Valladolid

6. THSR 700T

Country: Taiwan
Top Speed: 208 mph
Engine: 25 kV/60 Hz AC electrification system
Capacity: 989 passengers

5. KTX 2

Country: South-Korea
Top Speed: 218 mph
Engine: 25 kV/60 Hz

4. TGV Reseau

Country: French
Top Speed: 236 mph
Engine: 25 kV AC, 1500 V DC electrification system
Capacity: 377 passengers

3. Shinkasen

Country: Japan
Top Speed: 275 mph
Engine: 25,000 V AC electrification system

2. TR-09

Country: German
Top Speed: 279.5 mph
Engine: 50-100kW electric current

1. CRH380A

Country: China
Top Speed: 302.8 mph
Engine: 50-100kW electric current
Capacity: 494 passengers
Root: Shanghai to Nanjing, Shanghai to Hangzhou


10 Record Breaking Gemstones

A gemstone is a piece of mineral or fancy stone that is used to make jewelry and other decorative arts. Humans have been collecting jewels for centuries, and precious gemstones are among the most sought after material in the world, representing true monetary value. For this reason, they are cherished by millions. Here are ten specific jewels that have set records for clarity, size, and value.

10. Strawn-Wagner Diamond

Record: The Only Diamond To Receive A Perfect AGS Grade Of 0/0/0

Crater of Diamonds is a US State Park located in Pike County, Arkansas. In 1990, the most marvelous discovery ever made there, was made when Shirley Strawn found the Strawn-Wagner Diamond. Originally, the diamond weighed 3.09 carats (620 mg) but, after it was cut to a size of 1.09 carats (220 mg), it was given a perfect AGS grade of 0/0/0 by the Gemological Institute of America, indicating no flaws in cut, color, and clarity. It was the first time in history that a diamond had received a perfect AGS grade. According to AGS Laboratory Director Peter Yantzer, the diamond is one of the rarest in the world and a one-in-a-billion discovery. It is currently on display at the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

9. Olympic Australis

Record: The Largest And Most Valuable Opal

In 1956, the largest and most valuable opal in the world was found at the Eight-Mile opal field, in the mining town of Coober Pedy in South Australia. It was discovered at a depth of 9.144 meters (29 feet,) and was named the Olympic Australis opal, due to the Olympic Games being held in Melbourne at the time. It weighs a remarkable 17,000 carats (3450 grams,) and is 99% gem quality.

In 2005, the Olympic Australis was valued at AUD $2.5 million. Due to the purity of the jewel, it has been estimated that over 7,000 carats could be cut from the rough stone but, since the rock is so unique, it will be left in its natural organic state. Currently, the Olympic Australis is kept in Melbourne, at the offices of Altmann & Cherny Ltd.

8. American Golden Topaz

Record: The Largest-Cut Yellow Topaz In The World

The American Golden Topaz currently holds the record for the largest piece of cut yellow topaz in the world. More importantly, it is one of the largest faceted gems of any kind. It is sized at 22,892 carats (4.5785 kg) and has 172-facets (flat-faced cuts applied to gems, in order to help them reflect light.) The gem was cut from a piece of yellow topaz that was 11.8 kg (26 lb) in size. The original mineral was discovered in the Minas Gerais, Brazil, and cut by Leon Agee over a period of two years. In 1988, the American Golden Topaz was donated to the Smithsonian Institute, and put on display in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The price of the gem remains unclear.

7. Graff Pink Diamond

Record: The Most Expensive Gem Ever Sold At Auction

Some of the most valuable gems in the world are colored diamonds that have been graded (D) and flawless. One such diamond was discovered in the 1950s, when American jeweler Harry Winston purchased a rare pink diamond from an unknown collector. The diamond was 24.78 carats in size, and was described by Winston as “one of the greatest diamonds ever discovered.” It was classified by the Gemological Institute of America as a “fancy intense pink diamond,” which is an extremely high color rating. The gem has also been assessed as Diamond Type IIa, placing it in the top 2% of the world’s diamonds. It is cut into a rectangular shape with rounded corners, and is mounted on a ring.

In the 1950s, the diamond was sold by Winston to a private collector, who owned it up until 2010. At that time, it was put up for sale by Sotheby’s auctioneers in Geneva, Switzerland, where the pink diamond sold for US $46 million (£29 million), making it the most expensive single jewel ever sold at auction. It was purchased by diamond dealer Laurence Graff, of Graff Diamonds, who gave it its current name of Graff Pink.

6. Blue Giant of the Orient

Record: The Largest Faceted Blue Sapphire In The World

In 1907, a remarkable huge blue sapphire was discovered near Adams Peak, Sri Lanka. This was a huge deal, as blue is one of the rarest colors of sapphire on the planet. The sapphire was subsequently cut and polished into the Blue Giant of the Orient. At the time, it was reported to weigh 466 carats, and became the largest-faceted blue sapphire in the world.

The Blue Giant of the Orient is a cushion-cut, intense medium-blue color sapphire that has full color saturation. The gem displays a strong orange-red fluorescence in ultra-violet light. In 1907, the sapphire was valued at £7,000. It was sold to an anonymous American collector and the whereabouts of the gem were unknown until 2004, when an enormous blue sapphire appeared at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale held on May 19th, 2004, at Geneva, Switzerland. The jewel was not advertised as the Blue Giant of the Orient, but the size, cut, and color were similar, and it is thought to be the same gem. The jewel in the auction was 486.52 carats, and became the largest faceted sapphire of quality ever offered at auction.

Amazingly, the Blue Giant of the Orient did not sell, but was eventually purchased by an anonymous buyer for an incredibly paltry $1 million. The entire sale was suspicious, because of the secrecy and connection to the Blue Giant.

5. De Beers Diamond

Record: The Largest Missing Diamond In The World

In 1888, the De Beers Diamond was discovered in the Kimberly mines in South Africa. It was one of the largest diamonds ever found, and weighed 428 carats. After the diamond was cut, it became a magnificent 234.65 carat gemstone. The color of the diamond is pale yellow, and it holds a cushion cut of unknown clarity grade.

The De Beers diamond is currently the eighth-largest faceted diamond in the world. In 1928, the diamond became the centerpiece of the Patiala Necklace, which was created by the House of Cartier for Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. The necklace is one of most valuable pieces of jewelry every created. It contained 2,930 diamonds, including the 234.65 carat De Beers. The total weight of the Patiala Necklace was about 962.25 carats.

In 1948, the necklace disappeared. On May 6, 1982, it was reported that the De Beers diamond was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in Geneva, and fetched a $3.16 million bid, but did not meet the reserve. In 1998, part of the Patiala Necklace was located at a second-hand jewelry shop in London. However, all of the big gemstones were gone, including the De Beers diamond. As of 2013, the De Beers Diamond remains the largest diamond in the world that is not accounted for.

4. Smithsonian Alexandrite

Record: The World’s Largest-Faceted Alexandrite

The Smithsonian Alexandrite was unearthed in Sri Lanka, and holds a cushion mixed cut. Typical of most alexandrite, the Smithsonian jewel is red and green in color, and weighs 65.08 carats. It is currently one of the rarest, and most valuable, jewels in the world.

Its status as the world’s largest alexandrite, however, is very much up for debate. In 2011, it was suggested that an alexandrite gemstone named the Naleem Alexandrite weighs over 112 carats, but this can’t be confirmed. It has also been written that a private owner in Japan has a 141.92 carat alexandrite that was certified by the State Gem Corporation. Very little information can be found about the gemstone, but it is listed as the largest cut alexandrite by the Guinness Book of Records website. At 141.92 carats, the alexandrite would be worth over $100 million.

However, until any of these can be confirmed, the Smithsonian remains the verified champion of alexandrite gemstones.

3. Golden Jubilee Diamond

Record: The Largest-Faceted Diamond Ever Cut

In 1985, a worker at the Premier mine of South Africa discovered a large brown diamond the size of 755.5 carats (151 g.) It was one of the largest diamonds ever unearthed, but was initially considered something of an ugly duckling. It even had the nickname of “Unnamed Brown.” The diamond was cut over a period of two years in a specially designed underground room free from vibrations. When completed, it weighed 545.67 carats (109.13 g), which made it the largest cut diamond ever.

After the stone was cut, it turned into a beautiful yellow-brown diamond. In 1994, the diamond was displayed in Thailand and purchased by a group of investors, led by Henry Ho of Thailand. The Golden Jubilee Diamond is currently located in the Royal Thai Palace, as part of its crown jewels. It has been estimated to be worth USD $4-12 million.

2. Neelanjali Ruby

Record: The Largest Double-Star Ruby In The World

Some rubies show a twelve-point asterism, or “star,” on its surface. It is a rare occurrence so, when jewels are found with an asterism, they become much more valuable. The double-star ruby occurs when the asterism is seen from both sides of the jewel, which is even more rare and valuable.

The largest double-star ruby in the world is the Neelanjali Ruby, which weighs 1,370 carats (274 g). It was unveiled to the world at the end of 1988, and immediately entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest double-star ruby. The ruby is currently owned by Indian lawyer G. Vidyaraj. When he inherited the ruby, it was covered in layers of grime and soot as, in the past, people thought it was cursed. No one would dare touch the jewel for fear of desecration. The stone remained hidden for centuries until Vidyaraj finally cleaned and polished it, revealing its true beauty. He now claims the gemstone came from the kings of the Vijayanagar Empire, of whom he is a direct descendant.

The exact color, grade, or clarity of the ruby is not known; nobody even has a picture of the thing (another double-star ruby picture has been used, to give you a basic idea of what such a stone would look like.) Going on the rareness of double-star rubies, its estimated price has been put around $100 million.

1. Bahia Emerald

Record: The Largest Single Shard Of Emerald Ever Discovered

Currently, the largest single shard of emerald ever discovered is the Bahia Emerald, which consists of a huge amount of emerald crystal cylinders, embedded in a host rock that weighs the equivalent of 1.9 million carats. Recently, the Bahia Emerald has received an appraisal as high as $900 million, which would make it the most valuable gemstone in the world. However, most people place the value around $400 million.

It was originally discovered in the beryl mines of western Bahia State, Brazil, on July 9, 2001. After being smuggled to the United States, the Bahia Emerald was eventually moved to New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, the Bahia Emerald became submersed under 16 feet of water for two months, before it could be retrieved. The enormous block of emeralds was then stolen by a gem dealer in Las Vegas. After a lead, it was taken into custody by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in a large operation. According to some reports, the Bahia Emerald was involved in a $197 million banking transaction with Bernard Madoff before he was arrested. After a series of legal actions designed to get the emerald back, Judge John A. Kronstadt announced that he would hear the case, though no official ruling has been made yet.

The Bahia Emerald court battle is one of the largest custody lawsuits in California history, and has gained an international following. There are currently eight people who claim ownership to the emerald. One man says he paid $60,000 to a collection of Brazilian miners for the gemstone, while another says he gave up $1.3 million in diamonds for the emerald. If nobody is proven to be the owner, it remains unclear what will happen to the enormous gem.