These Alien Landscapes Are Actually Coal Mining Pits From Above

Hundreds of feet below sea level in eastern Germany, some of the world's largest excavators scrape coal from the Earth. The mine shown above—shot by photographer Bernhard Lang—produces 40 million tons of lignite coal per year. It comes at a cost: These mines are tearing up historic parts of Germany.

Aerial Photos of Coal Mining Pits Are Sublime and Terrifying

For some, coal mining conjures images of quaint Appalachian towns. In parts of Germany, where some of the world's largest open-pit coal mines exist, the resemblance is more of an apocalyptic wasteland.

Photographer Bernhard Lang's stunning overhead documentation of the Hambach Mine depicts the massive scale of the mining operation. The pit is 961 feet below sea level at its deepest point, producing about 40 million tons of lignite coal per year. The machines you see, some of the world's largest excavators, are an intimidating presence scattered across the flattened earth. It's a stark reminder of the extent to which humans can dominate the environment to fulfill our boundless need for energy.

Lang is no stranger to seeing the land from above. He has spent years drifting through the skies in ultralight aircraft, photographing scenes from parking lots to soccer pitches. The coal mines of Germany present a different kind of subject, with the beautiful patterns and colors confronting the environmental impact of what is taking place. [Behance]