|NASA Photo ID||ISS061-E-31529|
|Time taken||15:46:44 GMT|
|Nikon D5 Electronic Still Camera|
|5568E: 5568 x 3712 pixel CMOS sensor, 35.9 x 23.9 mm, total pixels: 21.33 million, Nikon FX format|
|720 pixels||480 pixels||Yes||No||NASA's Earth Observatory web site||Download Image|
|5568 pixels||3712 pixels||No||No||Download Image|
|640 pixels||427 pixels||No||No||Download Image|
Even without knowing the location of the scene below, the lack of vegetation and standing water reveal this to be an arid place. Death Valley is known for its extreme dryness and dangerous heat records. However, traces on the land indicate that water sometimes flows here.
An astronaut onboard the International Space Station captured this view of the southern end of Death Valley National Park. High-resolution photography of bare landscapes can expose complex geology. Shadows accentuate the sharp angles and slot canyons of the Owlshead Mountains.
Surrounding those rocky textured outcrops, alluvial fans and dry lake beds appear as smoother landscapes. When rare rains do fall, sediment is carried from the mountains and deposited as alluvial fans in the valleys. Dry lakes - such as Lost and Owl - can appear at the junctions of multiple alluvial fans, where water accumulates and then quickly evaporates away.
Variations in rock colors and mountain shapes provide clues of previous seismic and volcanic activity here. The Owlshead Mountains are made of light-colored, older plutonic rocks and darker, younger volcanic rocks. The Amargosa River follows along a large fault zone leading to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America (north of this photo).
Badwater Road appears in faint traces cutting across the fan. Between the road and the Owlshead Mountains, smaller strike-slip faults create slot canyons where people can hike through the remote area.
References & Resources
- California Department of Conservation (2020) Regional Geologic Maps. Accessed July 22, 2020.
- California Geological Survey (2020) Geologic Map of California. Accessed July 22, 2020.
- U. S. Geological Survey (1965) Alluvial Fans in the Death Valley Region California and Nevada. Accessed July 22, 2020.