The Seven Colored Earths, Mauritius are a strange geological formation near the village of Chamarel in the southwestern part of the island. The relatively small area of sand dunes is covered in surreal stripes of blue, yellow, purple, red, brown, green and violet. Despite heavy tropical rains in the area, the multi-hued dunes do not appear to erode. And if you take even a small handful of different colored sands and mix them together, they will naturally separate into a colored spectrum!
So where do these sands come from and of what material are they made? According to this sign and to Wiki, “The sands have formed from the decomposition of volcanic rock (basalt) gullies into clay.” These basalt sands are then “further transformed into ferralitic soil.”
So where do the colors come from? “…The two main elements of the resulting soil, iron and aluminium, are responsible for red/anthracite and blue/purplish colours respectively. The different shades of colour are believed to be a consequence of the molten volcanic rock cooling down at different external temperatures (hence rates)…”
And lastly, why do the sands separate automatically into a colored spectrum? “…the causes of their consistent spontaneous separation are yet to be fully clarified.”
Have you been to the Seven Colored Earths, Mauritius? Have any tips? Share in the comments!
Photo 1: travelise.com
Photo 2 and 4: Wikimedia
Photo 3 and 5: amusingplanet.com
Photo 6: environmentalgraffiti.com