© Richard Nowitz / National Geographic / Offset

National Geographic’s Richard Nowitz captures the Blue Lagoon of Iceland, nestled in a rugged lava field just

a short distance from Reykjavík. Though the enticing pool could easily be mistaken for another of the country’s natural wonders, Nowitz’s image reveals the unexpected truth. The therapeutic thermal lake is actually manmade, the mineral-rich water recycled by the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Guests can not only spend a lazy day in the steaming waters, but take home a tub of white geothermal mud to use as a face mask. Surprising and innovative, places like the Blue Lagoon prove that industry and nature can coexist in the modern age.

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