BBC Future

2012: Places of the year

  • Whole lotta lava
    Scientist Geoff Mackley investigates the interior of the Marum Volcano in Vanuatu. He stood only 30 metres from the boiling lava for 45 minutes. (Copyright: Bradley Ambrose/Caters)
  • Tilting tides
    Scientists have discovered Scotland’s famous Loch Ness tilts back and forth according to the tides – and have likened it to a giant "spirit level". (Copyright: Getty Images)
  • Tunnel of love
    This romantic walkway has become a hit with newlyweds in Ukraine. Every spring, trees grow over the railway line to create a natural archway. (Copyright: Oleg Gordienko/Caters)
  • Burnt landscape
    A house is surrounded by the devastation caused by a wildfire in Alpine, Utah, in July. It was one of many major fires in the US during a searing summer. (Copyright: Reuters)
  • Feathery river
    An abstract shot of a river near Kimberley, in Queensland, Australia, shot from a helicopter. (Copyright: Ted Grambeau/Caters)
  • Great Pacific garbage patch
    The vast raft of plastic debris in the North Pacific is growing larger; a research mission this year found it had increased a hundredfold in 40 years. (Copyright: AFP/Getty Images)
  • Attack of the clouds
    This scene from Chile’s Torres Del Paine National Park isn’t an alien invasion; in fact these are perfectly natural lenticular clouds. (Copyright: Dmitry Dubikovskiy/Caters)
  • Shark park
    The Cook Islands has joined forces with neighbouring Pacific Island states to ban shark fishing, creating the world’s biggest shark sanctuary. (Copyright: SPL)
  • Tribal wilderness
    Human rights group Survival International released rare photos of the isolated Mashco-Piro tribe living in the southeastern Peruvian jungle. (Copyright: Survival International)
  • Icy dip
    The crew of a US Coast Guard ship retrieve supplies dropped by an aircraft as they carry out a mission in the Arctic Ocean (Copyright: Reuters/Nasa)
Images of some of Earth's most striking places in 2012, from a slumbering volcano to the Arctic wilderness.

More amazing image galleries of the year:

A year in space

The year in technology

A year of discovery

People of the year

The year in weather

The year in wildlife

Weird and wonderful

Future visions

New frontiers

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on Future, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.