The annual National Geographic Traveler photography contest is accepting entries until June 30th. The outdoor spaces category is of particular interest to me, with peeks at landscapes far away. These are a few of my favourites:

Basalt in Iceland

A stream cuts through dark black rocks in Iceland. Iceland is rich in basaltic rocks, rich in dark minerals with a low silica content. The igneous rocks form from mafic magma welling up from the mid-ocean ridge and mantle plume.


Photo by Ondřej Záruba

Painted Hills in Oregon

Layers of black lignite soil, grey mudstones, siltstones, and shale, and red laterite deposits on the Painted Hills in Oregon. Lignite is brown coal, formed from compacted peat. Laterite is an iron-rich soil formed in hot, humid environments. Photo by Ric Canizares


Iridescent Clouds in North Carolina

Clouds above North Carolina produce a miniature rainbow of iridescence. Iridescence happens when small water or ice droplets scatter light as tiny prisms. These particular clouds produced a thunderstorm around the hint of a rainbow.


Photo by Nolan Darnell

Squirrel in the Grand Canyon

Even squirrels appreciate the raw geologic history exposed in the Grand Canyon. The mile-deep canyon exposes two billion years of largely-undisturbed sedimentary history, including between 4,000 and 8,000 feet from when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.


Photo by Kristy McCaffrey

Boulders in New Zealand

The beautifully spherical Moeraki Boulders in New Zealand are concretions of mudstones exposed during coastal erosion. The photographer points out that this particular boulder features algae tracing out the shape of the continents.


Photo by Michael Parks

Goats in Glacial National Park

Goats keeping an eye on Bear Hat Mountain in Glacial National Park, Montana.

Photo by Carmen Hobson