650 feet beneath the Russian industrial city of Yekaterinburg lies an abandoned salt mine. The cave looks like a surrealistically painted pantheon from an ancient civilization. However, the psychedelic pattern is a naturally occurring phenomenon. The bold stripes that decorate the cave walls are made up of layers of a mineral called carnallite, which is used in plant fertilization and can appear in a variety of colors.
These deposits date back to the Permian period, ~280 million years ago, when an entire sea dried up (called by some the Perm Sea), leaving behind a salty residue of evaporate minerals in its place. With the vicissitudes of geologic history, these became buried and forgotten until salt was mined in Russia (starting in the 2nd millennia BCE), and only now, with these incredible photos, are we able to view them.
Although a small part of the mine is still in use, miles of tunnels now lay abandoned an are only accessible with a special government permit.
Photography by Mikhail Mishainik. Via dailymail.co.uk