Swirls of brown sediment sweep out from the shore of Texas into the Gulf of Mexico after a month of heavy rain triggered floods throughout the state. The draining rain has also carried mud into the rivers and lakes of southern Texas. Water that was clear on October 15, 2004, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) acquired the lower image, was a cloudy brown on November 27. After pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, the sediment disperses, turning the water a milky green. Houston is visible in the top center of the images. The city forms a bright grayish white circular region that seems to radiate out like spokes in a wheel. The smaller city to its left is San Antonio.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained from the MODIS Rapid Response team and the Goddard Land Processes DAAC.
Galveston Island has alternately been a home to Native Americans, a base for Mexico’s rebellion against Spain, a pirate kingdom, a sea port, and even the capital of the Republic of Texas. In September 1900, the city was largely destroyed by a powerful hurricane. This storm damage, combined with construction of the Houston Ship Channel and discovery of oil in eastern Texas, shifted the center of trade northwest to Houston. This astronaut photograph shows some of the human impacts in Galveston that are easily observed from the vantage point of low-Earth orbit. The city of Galveston dominates the eastern half of Galveston Island, appearing as the gray-white region at center right. A large seawall along the Gulf of Mexico—shown here along the southern coastline of Galveston Island—protects most of the city. To the west of Galveston, coastal wetlands are largely submerged by regional subsidence—sinking of the land as a result of ground water withdrawal by the petrochemical industry of Houston and Texas City.