Earth Matters

August Puzzler

August 25th, 2020 by Adam Voiland

Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite image. The August 2020 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what we are looking at, where it is, and why it is interesting.

How to answer. You can use a few words or several paragraphs. You might simply tell us the location, 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 feature. If you think something is interesting or noteworthy, tell us about it.

The prize. We cannot 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 first person to correctly identify the image at the bottom of this blog post. We also may recognize readers who offer the most interesting tidbits of information about the geological, meteorological, or human processes that have shaped the landscape. Please include your preferred name or alias with your comment. If you work for or attend an institution that you would like to recognize, please mention that as well.

Recent winners. If you’ve won the puzzler in the past few months, or if you work in geospatial imaging, please hold your answer for at least a day to give less experienced readers a chance.

Releasing Comments. Savvy readers have solved some puzzlers after a few minutes. To give more people a chance, we may wait 24 to 48 hours before posting comments. Good luck!

Editor’s Note: Read La Malinche’s Barrancas for the answer.

15 Responses to “August Puzzler”

  1. don loudon says:

    The Volga delta near Astrakhan. Edge of the Steppe.

  2. Robert krimmel says:

    This is a highly cultivated area, probably imaged when fields were fallow in early fall. The narrow crop fields are only 30 meters or so wide, and always oriented perpendicular to the slope dip. Every crop field is as long as topographically practical, and cut off at the end by deep gullies. The gullies are filled with a natural vegetation which thrives in the relatively wet gully bottoms. This area is not particularly steep, and the soil, which is likely loess, is easily eroded. Water flows from the bottom right to upper left of the image. Urban areas are more present in the left area than the right of the image. A mountain in upper right is preserved as a park. Landsat 7 or 8, natural color, bands 2, 3, and 4, with band 8 added to increase apparent resolution. Likely in an area where small farms prevail, perhaps central China.

  3. John Mitrakas says:

    First impretion.
    Loooks like Viet Nam. Its like the land around Nhi Ha, Phuoc Nam, Phuoc Huu.
    Google Earth didnt help so much.
    Thanks for the pazzle

  4. Vy Nguyen says:

    I think people are destroying forests and trees to build up industries.

  5. michael a klueber says:

    Encroachment of slash and burn farms on forested areas of the Amazon.

  6. Jim Green says:

    Looks like a densely populated region. A good sized city is partly cut out of the frame in the upper left, and several more narrow urban area are seen in the left half of the frame. The whole scene is on a fairly steep incline from low on the upper left to high on the lower right. The higher elevations are more wooded possibly due to it being cooler, or possibly just because the trees have been cut in the other parts due to development. There are numerous creeks draining the slope and vegetation also remains along the creeks which appear to flow in narrow gullies. In between the creeks are where development has occurred, the aforementioned urban areas and numerous small farm plots that looks like stripes because they are terraced into the slope. My best guess is the Middle East or Asia.

  7. Akash says:

    it’s a mountain image and lines are due to rain falls from years of years

  8. Gustavo Nagel says:

    I see an agriculture region with scattered countryside cities. It is interesting because we can see that there is forest alongside the rivers, which gives this green line appearance. For me, this is in some South Asia region.

  9. gilbert ornstein says:

    I’m not sure of the location, but it seems to be more similar to the kinds of satellite photos taken of a forest, the brown and tan patches are straight lines in a non- random arrangement which leads on to an assumption that the terrain might be closer looking to how land is cleared for agriculture than for a quarry or a dig site. If I had to make a guess on location I would say it’s somewhere outside the united states especially because of the amount of greenery. Something interesting I noticed about this was the stark difference between the rounded aspect of the natural formations and the very straight and barren looking areas of agriculture and the towns.

  10. Anoop Mohandas says:

    Parallel drainage pattern, along the channel natural vegetation is there and most cultivation land is devoid of gives a clue for summer or fall season.Satellite data Landsat 8 Natural color composite. Urbanisation along stream channel is also visible in some part.Rather does it intensifying a draught indication?

  11. Matheos says:

    I feel like it looks like tree bark

  12. Cynthia Davila says:

    I am not too sure what the location is but I believe this area was once covered with water. Large body of water that is now turning into a desert. If it’s not my second guess is Deforestation. I think the location is the Amazon.

  13. Jan Cuddy says:

    Looks like my hands after I do the dishes. Actually, I don’t think that is a far fetched description. I do not know where this photo is from, but my observation may not be far off. Just as my skin dries and cracks, so does the earths “skin”. I am in the Autumn of my years (well, maybe Winter). We all need moisture or we start to dry up. Where I live in Florida we certainly have had more water due to the constant storms making our ground like a sponge. That brings me back to doing dishes. Hope all of you orbiting in the station enjoy a little dry humor as you continue your journey around the earth. God bless.

  14. steve says:

    Maybe the outskirts of Mexico city.

  15. Mecit ALBAYRAK says:

    Yüksek kıraç ve/veya kuru tarım yapılan arazi ile bu yüksek arazinin tabanında yer alan sulak yeşil parçalı vadi.