Earth Matters

January Puzzler

January 4th, 2017 by Adam Voiland


Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The January 2017 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what part of the world we are looking at, when the image was acquired, what the image shows, 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 or a trip to Mars, 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. After we post the answer, we will acknowledge the person who was first to correctly ID the image at the bottom of this blog post. We may also recognize certain readers 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 day to give others a chance to play.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some 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.

Good luck!

Editor’s Note: Congratulations to Brian Kennelly, James Varghese, Stephanie Wurdinger, and Max Packs for being some of the first readers to solve the puzzler on Earth Matters and Facebook. See a labeled version of the January puzzler with a more detailed discussion of Cerro Verde mine here.

26 Responses to “January Puzzler”

  1. Cri says:

    Tara Nova, Arctic

  2. Dusan Cekarmis says:

    Copper mines most likely in AZ.

  3. Andy says:

    This is Aral Sea in Russia.
    It has dried up for the last 3 decades

  4. Jake Martinak says:

    Russian diamond mine in the province of Siberia.

  5. Greg logsdon says:

    Peru. coopper mine

  6. Bhavit Verma says:

    Copper mines of peru

  7. Tom Jacobs says:

    Looks like a Bauxite mine in southern Australia around Lake Acraman???

  8. Brian kennelly says:

    This is Cerro Verde mine in Peru.

    The coloured lines are the haul roads going down the mine through different rock strata having different colours. The dashes are damp areas where water has been used to suppress the dust.

  9. kaxa says:

    kaxa tbilisi

  10. kaxa says:


  11. James Varghese says:

    Coordinates: 16°31’54.6″S 71°36’07.1″W
    Description: This Image (Natural Color Composite) was acquired using Landsat 8 OLI Sensor. The reddish-greyish-bluish colors are signs of various ores (predominantly copper ores) present in the mine. The darker-striped lines are indication of active mine roads used by Haul trucks. The roads are regularly sprinkled with water to settle and control the dust. Specifically, Cerro Verde Open-Pit Copper Mine with Molybdenum as a byproduct is located 30 KM SW of Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru. One of the earliest known history of mining can be traced to the Spaniards who mined high-grade copper oxide ore and exported it to Wales in the mid-1800s. Ever since then, this mine has had a momentous ownership history. In recent years the mine underwent a major expansion activity tripling the capacity of the Concentrator. It is noteworthy to note that Cerro Vedre mine is a source of potable water and wastewater treatment for the region, in addition to running Bat Conservation Programs, building healthy, educated and sustainable communities (source:

    Nature has enough for our needs but little for our greed. No doubt we need resources for our living but there are sustainable ways to use them and apply various opencast mine restoration programs in order to be responsible citizens of the Earth. I wish more mining companies follow such good examples and don’t just stick to vested interests and profit making.

  12. Donald Abernathy says:

    Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming, US

  13. Rhicha says:

    The image is of abu dhabi
    Surrounding is desert there is water huge landmass buildings.

  14. J Thomas says:

    Cerro Verde open pit mine in Peru.

  15. Olga Davis says:

    Mars surface.

  16. Matthew says:

    Like Jake Martinak said earlier, it should be a Russian diamond mine in the province of Siberia. If you look into the diamond mines on google, you could see that they are extremely similar to the image.

  17. Gin Andreas says:

    Mina Cerro Verde, Copper Mine, Peru Approximately 20 miles southwest of Arequipa. The dotted line is the color the roads make due to different ores present when they spray them with water to decrease dust in the area of the mine.

  18. Beth says:

    Copper mine, Atacama desert, chile

  19. Gerard says:

    Copper mine in chile. Color if from watering the roads to keep dust down.

  20. Tom says:

    Globe-Miami copper mining district in SE Arizona.

  21. Matt Lindsay says:

    Aerial photo of the Cerritos Verde Mine, Peru. Sulfide-mineral oxidation in the lone roads produces the orange-red lines.

    • Matt Lindsay says:

      Now without auto-correct: Aerial view of Cerro Verde Mine, Peru. Sulfide-mineral oxidation in the mine roads produces the orange-red lines.

  22. Gerard says:

    Cerro Verde Copper Mine in Peru. Roads are colored due to water sprayed roads using an intermittent spray pattern. Image taken on Oct 19, 2016.

  23. Ann Mullen says:

    Cerro Verde copper mines in south America, Its also showing the Tailling Pond.

    I think you’ve made a mistake as it’s shown on this weeks news feed.

  24. Sue Hawkins says:

    Mina Cerro Verde in Peru

  25. Harald Folvik says:

    Two huge open pits at the center of Cerro Verde, an expansive copper and molybdenum mine in the desert of southwestern Peru.