Where on Earth: Great Sand Dunes National Park

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Where on Earth is this dry, sandy landscape, covered in dunes?

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).

Story adapted from Image of the Day post by M. Justin Wilkinson, NASA-JSC: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/8415/great-sand-dunes-national-park-and-preserve-colorado

  • Oblique view of Great Sand Dunes National Park taken by the Expedition 16 Crew of the International Space Station
  • Sand Dunes photographed by the National Park Service
  • A satellite view of the region from the Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (EMT+) shows the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the east, with the light-colored dunefield in the center, partially surrounded by a darker-colored sand sheet.
  • Written by Margaret Carruthers
  • Designed by Dani Player
  • Music from Yesh Music (ASCAP)

Collage of distinct satellite images of natural phenomena.
Text, where on earth? Satellite image, a large sandy deposit on the western slope of a mountain range.
Text, where on Earth is this dry sandy landscape? A, Western Australia, B, southern Colorado, C, Southwestern Libya, D, Northwestern China.
B is highlighted, southwestern Colorado.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado. Settled against the western foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains lies Great Sand Dunes National Park.
The light colored dune field is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America.
The dunes rise as high as 750 feet, nearly one and a half times the height of the Washington Monument. Image, sand dunes with snowy mountains in the background.
Text, the great height of the dunes is a result of geography and wind patterns.
Prevailing winds blow sediment eastward toward the mountains, while opposing storm winds return sediment westward. Image, the dune field nestled against the western slope of a mountain range.
Text, these shifting winds recycle sediment, causing sand to pile up over time.
The map recedes until we have the whole Earth before us.
Text, where on earth?