Phenomena

Colorful Erosion

The colorful landscape of the the Ga'ara Depression seen from above

Wind, water, and gravity are great sculptors of our world. This false-color satellite image shows the Ga’ara Depression in Iraq, which formed some 300 million years ago beneath a shallow sea. The steep cliffs along the southern edge of the depression continue moving southward as they’re eroded by wind and run-off. When infrequent but intense rains pour down the channels of the southern cliffs, it carves away sediment which the water carries onward. In the flatter basin, these sometimes-rivers slow and spread out, eventually dropping the sediment they carry into sandbars. The build-up of sandbars causes the slower-moving water to shift its course back-and-forth over time, creating the alluvial fans seen along the southern and western borders. (Image credit: J. Stevens, via NASA Earth Observatory)

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