Photographer Kilian Schönberger shot a series of otherworldly photos showing the “earth pyramids” found in the province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. These are unusual and beautiful natural formations caused by erosion.
“One of the strangest landscape elements of the Alps are the so-called earth pyramids of South Tyrol,” Schönberger writes. “Especially during foggy conditions, these pillars appear like from another world.”
These earth pyramids form due to large boulders shielding the ground below from rain. As the clay soil erodes, the protected areas become tall pillars holding up the boulders that shielded them. Here’s Schönberger’s explanation:
The soil is prone to erosion during heavy pour – though it’s hard like stone when dry. Boulders within the glacial soil are like a shield to the soil below them. The surrounding material is swept away by rain but the stone-protected parts stay more or less dry and pillars start to “rise” from the ground. Once the earth pyramid is too fragile to carry the boulder even longer, the balance is lost and the stone tumbles down. Without this protection, the rest of the earth pillar vanishes quite fast with the next rainfall.
Schönberger spent several hours with the pyramids, documenting how the colors and lighting of the location change from dawn to noon.
Image credits: Photographs by Kilian Schönberger