Why do the islands float in Avatar?

Pandora's an exceptional place full of miraculous flora and fauna and even islands can fly, here's the science behind James Cameron's marvellous exo-moon

Why do the islands float in Avatar?

Why do the islands float in Avatar? Pandora is a pretty special place. The unique properties of the exo-moon have led its flora and fauna to evolve in unique and marvellous ways, and even the landscape itself seems magical compared to Earth.

One of the more memorable landscapes in the James Cameron movie was the floating “islands” that flew above the ground. The humans called them the Hallelujah Mountains, although the Na’vi name is Ayram alusìng which literally means “floating mountain”, and the science fiction movie’s final act took place in these miraculous mountains.

But what is it about Pandora that lets rock fly? Why do islands float in Avatar? Well, don’t worry, dear reader. We’ve got an answer for you.

Why do the islands float in Avatar?

The islands float because they contain huge amounts of unobtanium. The unobtanium is drawn to Pandora’s strong magnetic currents, and as a result, vast chunks of the earth are torn out of the ground and float in place. These islands then drift around on the magnetic currents like skyborne icebergs.

While there are obviously no floating mountain ranges on Earth (unless you visit Disney Land), the Hallelujah Mountains were based on a real-life location. Cameron based the islands on the Huangshan mountain range in China.

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If you love Pandora, then check out our guide on the Avatar 2 cast. We’ve also got an Avatar 2 ending explained as well as a guide to the Avatar 3 release date.