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08/09/2017

Earth's Puzzler: Swirly Mysterious Art

Check out NASA's July Puzzler (I am clearly a few days late)!  What in the world do you think this is? Where do you think this is located? Do you think it is interesting? (I do!!) 

Image 1

Each month on Earth Matters they offer a puzzling satellite image.  It was posted on July 25th and people posted their guesses on NASA's website and Facebook pages for a few days. The answer was revealed on the image of the day site on July 29th. This might be favorite puzzler so far this year. It is truly stunning and memorizing. Nature really makes some of the best art!

But do you have any guesses as to what this image is or where is was taken?  Here is another look at the same image, plus more context clues and zoomed out. Any takers?

Image 2


Okay, I'll tell you! 

According to NASA, this is where Pakistan’s coast meets the Arabian Sea. The arid terrain contrasts sharply with the open waters beyond it. Sometimes the two overlap, and the land bleeds into the water. It did just that when sediment poured into the sea in May 2017.

The image above shows the Makran Coast on May 25, 2017, when it was observed by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite. To the left of the image, the sediment-rich Hingol River feeds into the Arabian Sea. As its tan color indicates, the river frequently carries large amounts of sand and other debris. This is particularly true after a rare rain.

“Rivers in arid and semiarid areas tend to carry lots of sediment when it rains heavily because there is no vegetation,” said Peter Clift, a professor of geology and geophysics at Louisiana State University. Once river water—and accompanying sediment—reaches the ocean, it is swept along by currents. “It looks like the sediment is being pushed along the coast by eastward flowing longshore currents, which are typical along this coast,” Clift added.

What about that swirl pattern? It could be a result of underwater terrain.

Sparsely populated, this section of coast is part of Balochistan, one of Pakistan’s four provinces. Bordering Iran to the west and Afghanistan to the north, Balochistan supplies much of Pakistan’s natural gas. It also contains active mud volcanoes, some of them standing hundreds of feet tall. Just inland from the beach, the landscape becomes rugged, with canyon-like protrusions and scores of parallel ridges running east to west. The narrow valleys between them provide pastures for sheep and stretches of arable land amid the desert.

So was your guess close?! Let me know on my social media pages! The links are below! 

Katie McGraw's Facebook Page

Katie McGraw's Twitter Page

-Katie McGraw 

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