Es Safa is a striking basaltic volcanic field
located to the southeast of Damascus, Syria. It lies within the larger
Harrat Ash Shamah—the largest volcanic field on the Arabian tectonic
plate. Harrat Ash Shamah parallels the Red Sea and extends from
northeastern Israel, through southern Syria and Jordan, and into Saudi
Arabia, covering an area of over 50,000 square kilometers (19,000 square
Es Safa contains numerous vents that have been active during the
Holocene Epoch (beginning approximately 12,000 years ago). The most
recent recorded activity was a boiling lava lake observed in the area
around 1850. The dark lava flow field (center) likely represents the
latest activity of the volcanic field, and is emplaced over older,
lighter colored flows. The older flow surfaces also have light tan
sediment accumulating in shallow depressions, in contrast to the
relatively pristine surfaces of the darker, younger flows.
are scattered throughout the Es Safa field, but many are aligned along
northwest-southeast trends that likely indicate faults through which
magma rose to the surface. Two such alignments are visible at image
left. To the southeast (image right) a small reservoir feeds water
distribution ditches extending northwards.
NASA Earth Observatory (December 23, 2002). Syrian Desert. Accessed September 17, 2010.
Astronaut photograph ISS024-E-13690
was acquired on September 4, 2010, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera
using a 180 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations
experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson
Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 24 crew.
The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens
artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program
supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab
to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest
value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely
available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and
cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.