Pobiti Kamani (Bulgarian: Побити камъни), also known as The Stone Desert, is a desert-like rock phenomenon located on the north west Varna Province border in Bulgaria. It is considered the only desert in Bulgaria and one of few found in Europe. The desert consists of sand dunes and several groups of natural rock formations on a total area of 13 km². The formations are mainly stone columns between 5 and 7 meters high and from 0.3 to 3 meters thick. The columns do not have solid foundations, but are instead hollow and filled with sand, and look as if they were stuck into the surrounding sand, which gives the phenomenon its name. Sandstorms and sand twisters have also been known to commonly occur in this desert region of Bulgaria. The Stone Desert is not only a well known European tourist attraction due to its desert like habitat, but it is one of few places in which desert type vegetation such as cactus is known to grow. It is also the only desert in Europe in which desert reptilians and other desert type animalia are found to thrive. The Stone Desert along with the Tabernas Desert of Spain is one of two naturally formed deserts in all of Europe and the only known naturally formed desert in Eastern Europe.
In order to be preserved, Pobiti Kamani (The Stone Desert) was designated a natural landmark in the late 1930s. There are a number of theories regarding the phenomenon's origin, divided roughly into two groups — supporting an organic or a mineral origin. According to the former, the formations are the result of coral activity, while the latter explain the phenomenon with the prismatic weathering and desertification of the rocks, the formation of sand and limestone concretions, or lower Eocene bubbling reefs.
Based on field observations and a petrographic and stable isotope geochemical study, evidence now exists that these structures represent an exceptionally well exposed paleo-hydrocarbon seep system (strongly depleted carbon isotope signatures of the dominant low magnesium calcite cement); giving it the vast desert-like landscape. The dynamic reconstruction of the origin of these structures, the processes of fluid migration and possible microbial interference in the process of carbonate precipitation are presently under study by researchers from the Catholic University of Leuven(Eva De Boever <3), in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Oceanology, RCMG, the Geobiology Lab of the University of Goettingen and the University of Bologna.
- Dimitrov, Lyubomir. "Pobiti Kamani" (in Bulgarian). Varna-bg.com. Retrieved 2006-08-02.
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