Hearts on Earth

Caitlin Dempsey


Geographers have a spatial way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with these natural heart-shaped land features.

Lake St. Clair

Lake St. Clair is a heart-shaped lake in the Great Lakes region. Lake St. Clair is the smallest and most recently formed glacier lakes in the Great Lakes watershed.

While Lake St. Clair is not one of the five Great Lakes, the lake is known as the “heart of the Great Lakes” because of its shape and location along the U.S./Canadian border between the Canadian province of Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.

St. Clair is connected Lake Huron to the north via the St. Clair River and Lake Erie to the south via the Detroit River.

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Satellite image of a half frozen lake in the shape of a heart.
St. Clair is located along the U.S./Canadian border near Detroit, Michigan. Image: Landsat 8, USGS, public domain.

Heart-Shaped Lava Flow

Lava flowing around a small island formed the outline of a heart in the western portion of the lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit.

Lines of red lava flowing through a landscape.
An outline of a heart was created by this lava flow in the western portion of the lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit. Photo: M. Patrick., USGS, public domain.

Kīpuka in the Form of a Heart

A kīpuka is an area of land surrounded by young lava flows. This aerial image shows a heart-shaped forested kīpuka that was shaped when active from Kilauea flowed around it toward the Pacific Ocean.

A aerial image of an island in Hawaii covered by patches of lava flows and forested areas.
Heart-shaped Kīpuka in Hawaii. Photo: USGS, public domain.

Hearts in a Glacier

This glacier calving has a heart-shaped front in northwest Greenland.

Photo taken from an aircraft looking down at a heart-shaped glacier that is breaking off.
The heart-shaped calving front of a glacier in northwest Greenland, photographed on a March 27, 2017 Operation IceBridge flight. Photo: NASA/Maria-Jose Viñas, public domain.

Heart-Shaped Canyon in Israel

Located in Israel’s Negev Desert, this crater, or makhtesh is shaped like an elongated heart.

The canyon was formed after the Negev Desert emerged when the the primordial Tethys Sea receded about 200 hundred million years ago. Wind and water eroded the landscape to create the crater, known as the Ramon Crater, seen today.

A satellite image of a heart-shaped crater in Israel.
The Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert, Israel. Image: Landsat 8, NASA, public domain.
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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.