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Sediment from the Tigris and Euphrates

There is a large amount of sediment clearly visible in the true-color image of the Persian Gulf, acquired on November 1, 2001, by the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Carried by the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (at center), the sediment-laden waters appear light brown where they enter the northern end of the Persian Gulf and then gradually dissipate into turquoise swirls as they drift southward. The nutrients these sediments carry are helping to support a phytoplankton bloom in the region, which adds some darker green hues in the rich kaleidoscope of colors on the surface (see the high resolution image).

The confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers marks the southernmost boundary between Iran (upper right) and Iraq (upper left). South of Iraq are the countries of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The red dots indicate the probable locations of fires burning at oil refineries. Thin black plumes of smoke can be seen streaming away from several of these.

Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC