Earth Matters

April Puzzler

April 21st, 2014 by Adam Voiland


Every month we offer a puzzling satellite image here on Earth Matters. The April 2014 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what the image shows, what part of the world we are 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 200 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, 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 about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have played a role in molding the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend 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 or work in geospatial imaging, please sit on your hands for at least a few days to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved many of our puzzlers after only a few minutes or hours. To give more people a chance to play, we may wait between 24-48 hours before posting the answers we receive in the comment thread.

17 Responses to “April Puzzler”

  1. Kent Sawatzky says:

    The Dolomites with a rock quarry in the upper middle of the picture casting shadows.

    • ScootR says:

      Doesn’t look like the Dolomites. Looks like old weathered Granite and Gneiss formations to me. Something glaciated to create that overall morphology.

  2. MIke G. says:

    Yosemite National Park, Mount Starr King is the granite outcropping near the middle left of the image. Half dome is not shown but is just outside the top left of the area.

  3. Jeff Purton says:

    The Merced River meandering through the Little Yosemite Valley along the north and the roadless areas of Yosemite National Park and the Yosemite Wilderness fill the bottom 3/4 of the frame.

  4. ruth says:

    antartica, penquin population.

  5. P Tucker says:

    Looks like an image of somewhere in Yellowstone NP or somewhere like Yellowstone. I see possible remnants of water flow and lakes at the top of the image.

  6. Mike Guilbert says:

    It’s a view of Little Yosemite Valley, east of the main valley. Cascade Cliffs make the shadow feature in the upper right, with the circular Starr Lake in the upper central portion and Panorama Cliff on the left. You can see the meandering Sunrise Creek, which is undersized for the valley because the valley was eroded by glaciers which for a U shape valley, opposed to a V shape valley eroded by running water. The rock appears white because it is composed on granite, specifically granodiorite, which is mostly composed of luecocratic minerals (quartz and feldspar) and minimal ferromagnesium minerals (hornblende) with some biotite. The granite is Cretaceous in age. Center of image is approximately 37°43’41.17″N, 119°29’59.30″W.

  7. Frederic says:

    Yosemite NP, California.

    Sierra Nevada Mountains got uplifted and then Rivers and Glaciers formed the Valleys and the Domes.

    Greetings from Germany.

  8. Chris Mentrek says:

    Hmmmm… what can we learn from the image?

    The size of the wiggly river meanders (center top) and the trees (which appear as green dots) hint that this is a wide-scale view; I bet the image are covers several kilometers.
    If that’s right, the white objects casting the shadows are probably the size of small mountains / large hills.

    The shadows point towards the top of the image; if that’s North, then this place is somewhere in the northern hemisphere.

    Only some of the gray hilly-things are casting shadows, while the rest of the area is evenly-lit. This hints that there’s a sharp change in elevation at the gray, shadow-casting features. Cliffs?

    If that’s right, we’re looking for some large cliffs in a mountainous area of the northern hemisphere. (I’m going to post my guess separately, to see if I’m on the right track!)

  9. Chris Mentrek says:

    Okay, here’s my guess: Yosemite National Park.

    I went to a map to check my guess that the image might show the world-famous Half Dome (which is probably the most famous cliff in North America, and the first thing that came to mind). It turns out, the crafty posters left that landmark out of the image! However, chasing that hunch lead me to notice the two nearby peaks that matched the puzzler image:

    The two gray lumps in the extreme upper-left are Mount Broderick and Liberty Cap. The meandering river at top appears to be the Merced River, and the gray shadow-casting feature at top-center is Cascade Cliffs. It looks like a fun place to visit!

    (This is the first time I’ve been able to hazard a guess at the Puzzler. I’ve always been curious how others have made their winning deductions, so I shared my guesswork methods.)

  10. H. Rademacher says:

    This looks like Yosemite National Park in California, more specifically the area just to the SE of Half Dome. The image is interesting because it shows the jointing patterns in granitic domes (or in the batholith in general) that have been revealed via surface erosion and alpine glaciation. I can’t wait to get back here!

  11. Greg Roelofs says:

    Yosemite National Park, just south and east of Half Dome. The two domes at upper left are Mt. Broderick and Liberty Cap, according to Google Maps, and the small lake is Starr King Lake.,+Yosemite+Village,+CA&hl=en&ll=37.690613,-119.480267&spn=0.105819,0.07021&sll=46.383564,11.850348&sspn=0.002883,0.004238&oq=yosem&t=h&hq=Yosemite+National+Park,+Yosemite+Village,+CA&z=13

  12. Kenny Pascarelli says:

    It is an area scraped from a glacier. Looks like maybe granite.

  13. john Hunt says:

    looks like old karst terrain; river meander on RHS appears to commence without clear catchment-network; and so I infer there is a major karst/ cave spring/ resurgence draining an aquifer perched on a shale strata below

  14. Jim Bernard says:

    Yosemite. Glacier formed