Las Conchas, New Mexico, fires

Landsat satellite imagery illustrate the extensive damage caused by the Las Conchas fires in New Mexico. The major fire started on June 26, probably caused by a downed power line, and has burned over 125,000 acres, destroying sites sacred to American Indian tribes and threatening the Los Alamos National Nuclear Laboratory.

The June 24 image shows the area before the fires. The dark green represents the tree stands in the Santa Fe National Forest. Nearby are the Bandelier National Monument and the ancestral home of pueblo communities and historic sites.

The July 2 image shows the effects of the fires. The brown tones represent areas burned; the bright tones on the edge of the forest illustrate active fires, which, on July 7, are 30% contained.

The Landsat imagery are being used by fire crews to mark the extent of the fires and the areas of active burns. Additionally, the satellite data will be used with elevation data to monitor the vegetation damage on steep sloped regions as forecasts are calling for seasonal monsoon scale rains which will significantly affect erosion on the now exposed soils.

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Monday, July 11, 2011