Intro: Not too many cities in the world hold an allure quite like Rio de Janerio. Resting on the southern edge of Brazil, this metropolis was are final destination in Brazil, and well worth the wait. With a short flight from Salvador we arrived in this future 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics host city. With less than 5 days to explore we made the most our time, including the signature spots like Christ the Redeemer (offering busy crowds but gorgeous views), to the buzzing beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.
One of my favorite shows and a big inspiration for my own travels was Departures, and I remembered the episode when they were in Rio and went hang gliding. Thus, finding myself in Rio…
I would highly recommend doing it. It’s a bit pricey but gives you an amazing experience of catching thermals and flying over this gorgeous city. From a bird’s eye view you can really notice the unique mountainous seascape that befalls Rio. Vertical domes (like the famous sugarloaf) immerge from the ground and are encompassed by the rich-green rain forest.
So of course, being an all-around-lover of earth science (especially cool rock formations), I wanted to find out more about these domes and their unique relationship with the rain forest to share with you!
Science- Spheel: Protector of the Jungle (Geology, Physical Geography – Geomorphology, & Ecology)
These dramatic, steep-sided mountains are the result of some collaborative forces. Composed mostly of metamorphosed granite, these gigantic rock intrusion initially formed underground have been exposed on the surface due to a combination of fractures, weathering, and climate.
Around ~65 Million years ago Africa and South America separated to form the Atlantic Ocean, and this resulted in crustal stresses and fractures in the region. Fractures create weaknesses in the rocks, which are then exploited by tropical chemical weathering (i.e. by water interacting with minerals in the rocks to create chemical reactions). Over the years Rio’s climate allowed this to flourish with consistent swings in temperature, resulting in the outer layers to peel away, giving an onion skin appearance known as exfoliation sheets. Like an onion, the outer “granite skin sheds” on exposure, and falls into the valley’s below to be eroded faster, thus in turn steeping the slopes of theses sugarloaf-domes.
Now this plays a key role in creating a safe haven for the many endangered animals and plants of the Atlantic Rainforest, which has already been reduced to <7% of its original distribution due to deforestation. We went for a hike in Parque Nacional da Tijuca which is part of this Atlantic rain forest that surrounds Rio de Janeiro.
Wondering around you can tell how these steep valley floor (due to the sugarloaf-domes ramparts) forests are more diverse and have rich supplies of water and soil to support the thick, full tree canopies.
The sugarloaf-domes also support summit and shoulder forests, which are isolated and perched on high steep slopes. The environment there is harsh with little soil, nutrients or water but allow host to a vast array of specialized vegetation.
Rio de Janerio; a city of rich beauty, but underlying poverty. Definitely worth a visit and I would love to return one day. There are many things Rio has to offer, from delicious Brazilian fruits and açaí berries, to the sunny beaches and exciting football, and of course the gorgeous seaside landscape. To be able to learn a bit more about the foundations and formations of such a spectacular place makes it all the more rewarding for me to enjoy! Thus ends my dual travel trip in Brazil with my sister. You can check out her final video of Wild Nights in Rio, we missed the carnival but there is always good times to be had in Rio. And though this may be the end of Brazil… more is about to come as we visit some family ties and explore Eastern Europe. So stay tuned!
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