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Earth Matters

March Puzzler Answer: Colorful Salt Lakes in Western Australia

March 29th, 2016 by Kathryn Hansen


This month we posed a special seasonal challenge: We asked you to join us for a remote-sensing-themed egg hunt by identifying colorful, oval-shaped lakes and ponds around the planet. Well, as one reader points out, we “asked for it.” Hueva identified a lake in Canada so egg-like that it actually goes by the name “Egg Lake.” And to top it off, Goose Lake is immediately to its north.

The traditional challenge—identify the feature in this satellite image and its location—sent some on a wild goose chase. That’s due, in part, to the fact that there’s certainly more than one way to form an egg-shaped lake. As Viacheslav Zgonnik noted:

“These places are seepages of natural molecular hydrogen (H2). We tested many of them on different continents. Check our the most recent article about Carolina bays – egg-like structures in North Carolina, USA.”

The March puzzler was also puzzling because this lake shape is not unusual—oval lakes show up all over the planet. Michael G commented on the blog:

“Located in northern Alaska, USA. There are hundreds of such lakes, they are increasing in size and number. They are thought to form as a result of climate change (warming) that is especially noticeable in the arctic. The shape of the lakes appear to all orient themselves in the direction of permafrost thawing but the dynamics of this are unknown. Recent theories includes slumping of the permafrost as is thaws through the entire thickness of the layer, instead of just the upper layer. The lakes are among the fastest growing lakes on record, increasing in a linear (hence egg shape) direction at about 3m a year, towards the northeast.”

Excellent guesses! This particular image, however, shows a series of saline lakes in Western Australia. Congratulations to David E. Ways and Owen Earley, who were the first to post correct guesses to the blog and to Facebook, respectively. Paulie also guessed correctly, adding that “this area is a “biodiversity hotspot, mixed in with established intensive agriculture.”

The false-color puzzler image was acquired on October 21, 2015, with the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. To see what the scene looks like in natural-color, and to learn more about these lakes and the reason behind their various colors, read our March 26, 2016, Image of the Day.

The identity of our puzzler has been revealed, but there’s still time to hunt eggs. Continue sending us the latitude and longitude of your favorite colorful, egg-shaped lake by submitting it as a comment on this blog post. We will include the most interesting lakes sent in by readers in a special image gallery that we will publish later this spring.

One Response to “March Puzzler Answer: Colorful Salt Lakes in Western Australia”

  1. IQE says:

    Uow! It’s beautifull