Earth as Art 3

The Earth as Art Three exhibit provides fresh and inspiring glimpses of different parts of our planet's complex surface.

Lake Eyre

Do you see a scary face looking back at you? The hollow-appearing eyes, narrow nose, and slash of a mouth are inundated patches of shallow Lake Eyre (pronounced "air"). Deep in the desert country of northern South Australia, Lake Eyre is an ephemeral feature of this flat, parched landscape. When seasonal rains are abundant, water fills the lakebed to some degree. During the last 150 years, Lake Eyre has filled completely only three times. When brimming, it is Australia's largest lake.

Lake District

A popular holiday destination, the Lake District in northwestern England is a region of picturesque mountains and long, narrow lakes. Most of the lakes lie in U-shaped valleys that were carved by glaciers during the last ice age. Morecambe Bay, below the Lake District, opens into the Irish Sea. This large expanse of intertidal sand and mudflats is notorious for its quicksand and tides that are said to move "as fast as a horse can run."

Island Rebound

During the last ice age, Akimiski Island in Canada's James Bay lay beneath vast glaciers that pressed down with immense force. As the climate changed and the ice retreated, Akimiski began a gradual rebound. The island's slow but steady increase in elevation is recorded along its naturally terraced edges where the coastline seems etched with bathtub rings, the result of the rising landmass and wave action at previous sea levels.

Impact

Tin Bider is an ancient and eroded meteor crater on the Tin Rhert Plateau in the Algerian Sahara. Tin Bider is nearly 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) in diameter and was caused by a meteorite impact in this region of northern Africa roughly 70 million years ago. The other streaks near the crater are unrelated to the impact event. These rock folds are geologic features older than the crater.

Icelandic Tiger

This stretch of Iceland's northern coast resembles a tiger's head complete with stripes of orange, black, and white. The tiger's mouth is the great Eyjafjorour, a deep fjord that juts into the mainland between steep mountains. The name means "island fjord," derived from the tiny, tear-shaped Hrisey Island near its mouth. The ice-free port city of Akureyri lies near the fjord's narrow tip, and is Iceland's second largest population center after the capital, Reykjavik.

Ice Waves

 Along the southeastern coast of Greenland, an intricate network of fjords funnels glacial ice to the Atlantic Ocean. During the summer melting season, newly calved icebergs join slabs of sea ice and older, weathered bergs in an offshore slurry that the southward-flowing East Greenland Current sometimes swirls into stunning shapes. Exposed rock of mountain peaks, tinted red in this image, hints at a hidden landscape.

Ice Stars

Like distant galaxies amid clouds of interstellar dust, chunks of sea ice drift through graceful swirls of grease ice in the frigid waters of Foxe Basin near Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. Sea ice often begins as grease ice, a soupy slick of tiny ice crystals on the ocean's surface. As the temperature drops, grease ice thickens and coalesces into slabs of more solid ice.

Great Barrier Reef

What might be mistaken for dinosaur bones being unearthed at a paleontological dig are some of the individual reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest tropical coral reef system. The reef stretches more than 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) along the coast of Queensland, Australia. It supports astoundingly complex and diverse communities of marine life and is the largest structure on the planet built by living organisms.

Ghostly Grease Ice

Ethereal swirls of grease ice appear turquoise against the midnight blue of the northern Baltic Sea near the Aland Islands (red) between Finland and Sweden. An early stage of sea ice formation, grease ice consists of a viscous mix of tiny ice crystals and resembles an oil slick on the ocean's surface. Wind and currents constantly shape and reshape grease ice into surreal, ghostly patterns.

Erongo Massif

The dark heart in this vivid African landscape is the Erongo Massif, an isolated, sheer-walled mountain that rises 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) above arid Namibian plains. The massif is a remnant of a gigantic volcano that was active roughly 150 million years ago. At some point, the volcano's center collapsed in upon itself under the weight of overlying lava. Eons of erosion by wind and wind-blown sand gradually exposed the long-dead volcano's core of granite and basalt.

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