Earth Matters

February Puzzler

February 12th, 2013 by Mike Carlowicz

Each month, Earth Observatory offers up a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The ninth puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what part of the world we’re looking at, when the image was acquired, and why the scene is interesting.

How to answer. Your answer can be a few words or several paragraphs. (Try to keep it shorter than 300 words). You might simply tell us what part of the world an image shows. Or you can dig deeper and explain what satellite and instrument produced the image, what spectral bands were used to create it, or what is compelling about some obscure speck in the far corner of an image. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We can’t offer prize money for being the first to respond or for digging up the most interesting kernels of information. But, we can promise you credit and glory (well, maybe just credit). Roughly one week after a puzzler image appears on this blog, we will post an annotated and captioned version as our Image of the Day. In the credits, we’ll acknowledge the person who was first to correctly ID the image. We’ll also recognize people who offer the most interesting tidbits of information. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for an institution that you want us to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the last few months, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.

You can read more about the origins of the satellite puzzler here. Good luck!

82 Responses to “February Puzzler”

  1. Bill says:

    My guess is the Mississippi River Delta.

    • Linda says:

      Are you kidding? My first thought goes to the heart’s shape…in any way, I loved it…an awsome image!

  2. granny dody augustein says:

    looks like a land slides and bodies of water emerging from underground

  3. Geovani Pandolfi says:

    Well, its clear its a big or important river in a desertic area, so i think i can be from Nilo… And, i think we can see the diference between the water from the river and the ocean one (salt) by color bondaries… blue darker or brighter… Well, pearhps, it was not the river Nilo but i think the reason and importance is fundamental about the “farmes” linving neibgboord riverside… Because there are no jungle… So its means low rains rates…

  4. dani pleas says:

    It looks like a place that was, once, covered in ice/snow. Is it the North Pole?

  5. Kevin Martin says:

    This is the Danube Delta, at the entrance of the Sim-Dunay. It is the sign of erosion and the closest city if Vylkove, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine

    But you got C.A. Rosetti and Letea as well within the eroded area. Tulcea County,Northern Dobrogea,Romania.

    Credit to CEO/Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin from

  6. Sergio Farell says:

    Salty lands around a river delta: marine water intrusion. Great amounts of sediments from the river to the sea.

  7. Jaimen says:

    Danube delta.

  8. Kent says:

    It looks like a river delta with a bunch of relict shoreline structures in the north west part of the image. My guess is that this delta is fairly stable as there seems to be keys forming off shore and the shoreline is well developed. It obviously spitting out a lot of sediment in suspension so I would say its source is from somewhere glacial, possibly from the Himalayas.

  9. H. Al-Attar says:

    The image is from most South-West part of Ukrain, where the Danube Delta has formed. For orientation the top side of the image is nearly pointing West, so north direction should be to your right. At the top right corner, where the square shapes are; is a small town called Lisky. Following the river down from there (where the first white color is on the right) is another small city called Vylkove, which is known as “The Ukrainian Venice”.
    The green color was reduced down in the RGB blend of this image. The water color variation could relate to different properties (depending on what property is highlighted) possibly: water temperature, water salinity, or bloom (organic bugs), like in the lakes.
    The white color bands (at the top of the image) is not ice. The area called Caraorman; an old fishermen village. There was an old sand quarry there, and a very beautiful Oak Forest.
    I think the image was acquired during winter season, perhaps winter of 2012.

  10. joseph mullins says:

    A delta rgion of earth with high concntrations sediment that has built up from this river and it’s tributary brances that have formed from this river. The upper atmosphere in the n.w of the region has formed a land pattern below. Looks like dark green paint esiles of water around the lower areas of your delta . (Stagnations or oxygen starved blotches, algea concentrations.) Someone is trying to cultivate in the n.e of your delta , with alittle forest that has survived. It alomost looks like the clouds are formed from the ground area to the S.W. Almost the same pattern as the ground. The soil is starved.

  11. Erwin Oliveira says:


  12. Laura Scott says:

    Danube Delta that’s obvious

  13. Danny G says:

    Man made scars on the earth oozing contaminated pus into the ocean.

  14. Guðjón Ólafsson says:

    A delta, possibly a glacial river, or a erosive river that originates at a high altitude with steep downward gradient of flow, since river is carrying water-suspended clay sediment load. Probably RGB picture from SPOT or the Landsat 7 or maybe even the new Landsat satellite.

    The curve patterns are old shorelines, if one observes the beach on the right side, you can follow the pattern in-land and thus back in time.

  15. Elsie Valentin says:

    I love dolphins, first things I noticed was a a shape of a dolphin on the upper part of the image.

  16. Krista Leigh Ruut says:

    Mississippi River Delta

  17. KAREN says:


  18. mostafa says:


  19. Desarea Richardson says:

    The first thing i was the dolphin in the right upper part of the image and i do belive its the Danube Delta

  20. krishna says:

    it is Danube delta. it is beautiful for it’s excellent landform structure. they dump sediments, if their discharge is high it may form cones to excellent depths.

  21. Alan Sturgis says:

    With Mediterranean influences, the Danube Delta falls within east European steppe ecosystem. Fortunately, this area is the least inhabited region of temperate Europe, which allows it to be host to vast ecosystems. A beautiful arterial system that is more alive than any facebook page or email account. We are fortunate to live on this Pale Blue Dot.

  22. Voodoo463 says:

    This is a fascinating image, mainly because of the thoughts and ideas conjured. I believe this to be the Dunube Delta, which in itself is the second largest in all of Europe and catty corners itself through both Romania and Ukraine. It holds an extraordinarily diverse selection of ecosystems, stemming from the abundance of aquatic life that is dominant in the area. Such areas include Marsh, Oceanic, Estuarial, and Avian. The image itself possibly depicts the event of coastline morphology, how both erosion and sediment deposits work together to redefine a coastal boundary. The area has a rich history, having been tamed by a myriad of Imperial and Tribal regimes, and ultimately is the largest (surprising since it spreads several countries) wetland reserve in Europe.

    I am with the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

  23. louise neall says:

    I see a giant eagle’s talon!

  24. Juan Jose Almenara says:

    I do see the obvious landscapes including a delta but what surprised me was the horse laying down with his eye closed and relaxed mouth. I see a left view of the horse laying flat on the dirt.

  25. Percy Olazabal says:

    Eastern Europe;the portion It’s the Ukraine and Romania ant the black sea at the bottom of the top view.

  26. Reason Sarker says:

    I think its a stone formed of different kinds of stones.

  27. Andrew Holz says:

    liquid is flowing into a large body of liquid. My guess is precipitation from a mountain. An example that our climate is on a warming trend. My guess photo takin in August, approx 12:30-13:00 (ukraine time)

  28. mini joe says:

    Mississippi river and delta
    but the streams is an artistic works..

  29. leon says:

    um rio e seus braços chegando no mar, agora a terra parece que foi recém desmatado,lhe cortaram toda a vegatação. como se fosse ser construido algo ali.

    um terreno praticamente plano.

  30. Lakshmisha says:

    Mississippi river and delta., With Mediterranean influences, the Danube Delta falls within east European steppe ecosystem.

  31. LizzieBee says:

    The Southern tip of Ukraine near the border with Romania & situated near the Danube Delta. Down river from Kiliya, Ukraine & slightly north of Sulina, Romania.

  32. Paola says:

    Danube delta, incredible colours between ocean and river coming from dessertic land… Wondefull!

  33. Pavan kumar says:

    I think it might be delta formed by volcanic erruption because of its surrondings were dried and the rock mountain near it also signifies this by absense of greenery nearby

  34. arun says:

    it looks like a river delta which is divided into many tributaries. as the color of the water n which it is getting mixed is whitish so we can say that the river has bought so much of sediments hence the salinity of the water there is high. since so much of sediments are brought down by the river so weathering and erosion is more and hence this river is somewhere in between equator and tropical circles mostly nearer to tropical circle.

  35. @phoenix77707 says:

    It’s Romania.

  36. Adrine says:

    It looks like arteries of water flowing with lots of sediment. And that lighter strip looks like an alien ship tried to land, scraped the earth & kept going. Probably somewhere in Europe or Russia.

  37. samim says:


  38. patrick kirimi says:

    This is the Nile Delta in Egypt as Nile drains into the Mediterranean sea. The river has deposited sediments on its mouth region building a shallow basin in its old age near ALexandria and therefore developed distributaries that drain its waters into the sea. The delta appears to be in hot desert type of climate and explains the extensive riverine farming to feed the ready market in the bustling populace of Egypt around Alexandria. The picture is fairly recent and appears to me to be one taken by the recently launched LANDSAT or the LDCM courtesy of NASA. The water of Mediterranean is some of the most saline in the world among the seas and the picture indicates the fresh water of the Nile in light blue hue merging into the deeper blue sea water. The Alexandria city is visible to the opposite of the dolphin-like feature.

  39. Mark Tremble says:

    2002 Landsat photo. Part of “Earth as Art”. This location is Yukon Delta into the Bering Sea. Named “Sinewy Delta”.

  40. khalid saeed says:

    It is Volkove village area bordering Ukraine and Romania and chanels flowing into Black sea west coast.

  41. charles says:

    jamien,how?! how have you figured that out?

  42. khalid saeed says:

    It is algae causing colour of sediments flowing to Black sea and Volkove village bordering Ukrain and Romania.

  43. Piotr Wadolkowski says:

    Danube delta and Romania-Ukraine border.

  44. L. Jovanovic says:

    To me, it looks like a ragged,veined leaf fallen in the water, but then what do I know? I’m just an artist.

  45. Marion says:

    The location is at the Ukraine-Romania border (Chilia Arm) at the Black Sea

  46. Martins says:

    Danube Delta
    It’s interesting because there is a lot of history to do with it.

  47. Luiz Freitas says:

    Danube Delta, Romania.

  48. mile says:

    the river looks normal you can see its going out to the ocean, we can see theres a city top right of the river, but the grayish white streeks across the top left looks abit sus, could be snow with a masive land shift or slide and it might be heading towards the city. the brown streeks behind the grayish white snow looks like again a land shift or slide. we can see that theres alittle bit of green left near the land shift or slide. it could be somewhere in the middle east or india

  49. Grigore Sleahtitchi says:

    A foot hitting a Pachycephalosaurus head!

  50. Simon says:

    Danube river delta

  51. Nirav Desai says:

    I think this is the Amazon River Delta

  52. Chris says:

    It is the Black Sea – Danube Delta on the border of Romania and the Ukraine.

    That is not snow, but it does look like it’s fall or winter unless this is a false color image? Could it be Salt? There looks to be a collection point for the water flowing through the salt area.

  53. David Malley says:

    Caribbean for the water is so green except for the silky run off from the rivers. Heavy rainfall for the many rivers. Farming where the soil won’t leave you. Large salt if not sand deposit with a curving hillside to the sea.

  54. Abhinav Sundhar says:

    To me, it looks like the delta of the Nelson river or some other Canadian river draining into the Hudson bay in North America. The river looks frozen and the land looks barren.

  55. kishan kumar says:

    in this picture
    Shows three human trying cover a big area with big amount of polythin bags…… Or other material….
    I think there is two or many reasearch centres…..
    Roads,farmacy, homes.

  56. Iva says:

    Je to velká řeka která se vlévá do moře.

  57. ashwini says:

    land is wet land and river flows into sea .at corner white land once may be a land with full of ice covering now its dried up.. land is surrounded by sea water and in corner white line its an waves and green pots are land water.. but water is flowing like river is longest and it also divides land into small lands so only its amazing to see river spreading all over the land so its interesting place…small city is there only on right side …In earth its bottom or may be top land pert of earth its fresh area.. it may be DUBAI…

  58. Derek says:

    It’s the south tip of austrailla n only interesting because that part of the country is drying out from all the winter weather.

  59. Takis Kalos says:

    Danuble Delta. Border of Romania Ukraine. City of Vylkove
    45°21’53.80″ B 29°47’34.28″ E

  60. Johny says:

    Danube Delta rotated 90 degrees clockwise. 🙂

  61. manu80 says:

    Certainly is the Danube Delta near Gura Portitzei!!

  62. ionthesky says:

    Mississippi River Delta after hurricane Katrina.

  63. Ted Liljeholm says:

    After searching printed maps, and Google satellite maps the area shown is part of the Danube Delta. Much of the area is in the Ukraine, and another part is in Romania. The way the lines were drawn. The former Russians took much of the delta, and the town is Vykove, is in the upper center right of the picture. I have a old map and there is more land now in this picture, and am used to having some clues, and searching for the answers. What corner is the speck? there is a line which I would think is a canal since is so straight. I wish you had indicated the picture was rotated. In searching the world I noticed the curved land forms in the upper left or are they clouds? I noticed similar patterns in South America and the west coast of Africa. I enjoy learning about the world from the NASA pictures.

  64. Maru says:

    Oh well, observing the photo, I do not see Sun’s shade or shadows, it could mean it was taking at 90 degrees which could mean around noon. That would explained the color of the water so blue. However, on the upper left corner, it seems is a shape reflection of an image on top of the place, it seems because the Sun was verticaly to the shape, whatever it was there, the material of the shape, reflected like something is bright, like when water is reflected on the Sun’s light.

    Interesting. The reflection is a kind of oval shape. It is a crazy thought, but an invisible space shift? My question is: Why is not a shadow under? If it is not, what material they use to build it?

  65. Heidi E says:

    45*18’N 29*38’E Danube Delta, Romania, region Black Sea
    image oriented with West UP
    City of Sulina off left side of image
    City of Vylkove above first fork to north
    Meander scars are prominent to the west of the river (up in image)
    Spits along shoreline

  66. greg says:

    i think its a quarry or mine over looking the river and sea in arabia or some place like that

  67. sarah says:

    Valentines Day 2013 at 7:43 pm
    it looks like a decaying leaf floating on an icy blue water
    hahahaHappyValentine! God bless U all . i love you 🙂

  68. Joana says:

    how did u guys figure it out?

    I was looking over google maps..but nothing.
    I just read the answers



  70. Rohit says:

    looks like the bird foot delta and impressions of previous sea bay at top left made the photo interesting

  71. Faizul HAQ says:

    Hmm…….very interesting pic……….it’s a bird shaped delta!!!!!!!……….dont’t know where it’s taken..but….really a river is falling and you can see the difference in water and sea water by it’s color!!!

  72. patrick kirimi says:

    oh the google maps indicate this is certainly Danube Delta. It is the largest in all Europe.The Dolphin feature like rocky feature is clearly visible overlooking lacul (lake) Piaulet and Lacul Macovei and the Danube Sulina Branch and the Dunarea branch which is the larger stream discharging into the distributaries draining into The Black Sea-the coast on this image.

    The entire stretch of Dunarea as depicted here is the border between Ukraine to the North and Romania to the South. The riverside town opposite the dolphin like feature’s “nose” is Vylkove in Ukraine. The straight banks of the main stream here seem to me to be as result of training to avoid river meanders that would slow the river and cause flooding in the urban settlement.

  73. nikhil nair says:

    its Danube Delta in Romania!!! the mixing of color at the joint makes this pic interesting!

  74. Taryn Marie says:

    I see a bird in the top left corner with a long skinny beak.