Here’s a winning question for your next trivia night: Where is the world’s largest island-in-a-lake-on-an-island-in-a-lake-on-an-island? According to stories published here and here, the distinction currently goes to a nameless isle within Victoria Island in Canada’s Nunavut Territory.
On August 21, 2014, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this natural-color view of the “sub-sub-sub-island.” The top image shows a close-up view of the unnamed island, while the bottom image shows a wider view of Victoria Island’s lake-littered landscape.
The sequence unfolds as follows, from small to large. At the center of it all is a seahorse-shaped island measuring just over 300 meters (1,000 feet) from west to east. The island sits within a small lake, also unnamed, that makes up a sizeable portion of its home island. That island, in turn, is nestled within a long finger-like lake located about 90 kilometers (60 miles) inland from the southern coast of Victoria Island.
As the Condé Nast story notes, there is plenty of potential for a yet-undiscovered island that rivals the island pictured above. Victoria Island—the eighth-largest island in the world—is just one of about 36,000 islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. And in Nunavut Territory alone, those islands are littered with millions of lakes, ponds, and streams that took shape after the last Ice Age.
The ghostly white shapes northeast and immediately southwest of Wrangel Island are sea ice. Over the course of the satellite record, Arctic sea ice has advanced and retreated past Wrangel Island many times. From 1979 to 2000, the sea ice edge at the end of summer generally fell somewhere in the vicinity of Wrangel Island, but this is not the first summer when the sea ice edge has retreated well north of the island.
On September 25, 2002, astronauts aboard the International Space Station viewed Easter Island, one of the most remote locations on Earth. Easter Island is more than 2000 miles from the closest populations on Tahiti and Chile—even more remote than astronauts orbiting at 210 nautical miles above the Earth. Archaeologists believe the island was discovered and colonized by Polynesians at about 400 AD. Subsequently, a unique culture developed. The human population grew to levels that could not be sustained by the island. A civil war resulted, and the island’s deforestation and ecosystem collapse was nearly complete.