Mystery behind red-stripped Smoking Hills which have been burning for centuries

Located on the east coast of Cape Bathurst in Canada, the Smoking Hills still remains as a strange natural phenomenon.

The multi-coloured fiery wonder recorded its first sighing in the early 1800s by an Irish explorer named Captain Robert McClure.

He trawled the Arctic for lost expedition leader Sr John Franklin who disappeared while charting Canada's Northwest Passage.

When he witnessed the smoke, the captain ordered his crew to investigate in case it was a signal from the lost explorer.

However, when he reached the hills, which can only be accessed by helicopter or boat, there was no sign of life.

The explorers believed volcanic activity was caused the hills to burn, but there might be another explanation.

For centuries the rocks have been burning because of the underground oil shales in the area which are rich in suffer and brown coal.

This then causes the stones to spontaneously ignite when the hills erode and expose the gases to oxygen, according to Atlas Obscura.

The process also produces eye-catching rainbow aesthetics with normally dark mudstone reddened and bleached.

It is located on the east coast of Cape Bathurst, which is a few miles south of the Beaufort Sea.

No roads lead to the area so it's only accessible by float plane, helicopter or boat.

The nearest community, Paulatuk, which is about 65 miles east, is named in recognition of the coal found in the area.

These cliffs were named by explorer John, who was the first European to see them on his 1826 expedition before he disappeared.

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