Tour of the Galapagos

July 15th, 2009 by Kevin Ward

Straddling the equator approximately 1000 kilometers to the west of the South American mainland, the Galapagos Islands lie within the heart of the equatorial current system. Rising from the sea floor, the volcanic islands of the Galapagos are set on top of a large submarine platform. The main portion of the Galapagos platform is relatively flat and less than 1000 meters in depth. The steepest slopes are found along the western and southern flanks of the platform with a gradual slope towards the east. The interactions of the Galapagos and the oceanic currents create vastly different environmental regimes which not only isolates one part of the Archipelago from the other but allows penguins to live along the equator on the western part of the Archipelago and tropical corals around the islands to the north. The islands are relatively new in geologic terms with the youngest islands in the west still exhibiting periodic eruptions from their massive volcanic craters.

Data sets used in the Animation:
MODIS True Color
Landsat 30 Meter True Color
ETOPO 2 Bathymetry
MODIS Sea Surface Temperature
SeaWiFS Ocean Chlorophyll and Land Vegetation Index
SRTM Topography for Land Elevation

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Notes from the Field