Where on Earth: Shenandoah National Park

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Explore the topography and geology of the Massanutten Mountain region of Shenandoah National Park with an image from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. 

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: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/3286/shenandoah-national-park-virginia

  • Image of parallel ridges in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park: Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, Space Shuttle Endeavour
  • Illustration of the layering of the rocks below the surface: Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, U.S. Geological Survey, STScI, L. Hustak
  • Image of Blue Ridge Mountains: Operational Land Imager (OLI), Landsat 8
  • Written by Claire Blome
  • Designed by Dani Player
  • Music from Yesh Music (ASCAP)

Text, Where on Earth?
A relief map shows variation in elevation and roughness of Earth's surface.
High mountain ridges are highlighted in purple and blue. Low valleys are green.
Where on Earth are these ridges and valleys?
A, in the Amazon rainforest, B, on the floor of the Indian Ocean, C, beneath the ice sheet in Antarctica, D, in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia
D, in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, is highlighted.
This relief map from the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows parallel ridges in Virginia's George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park.
Shifting continents, volcanic eruptions, and running water shaped these ridges over millions of years.
To the west, Massanutten Mountain has a perimeter of smooth, straight crests encircling a valley.
Erosion-resistant sandstone gives it a distinct, bony shape.
To the east, the Blue Ridge Mountains are wider with irregular, knobby shapes.
Its rocks include greenstones, remnants of ancient lava flows, that cap many of its highest peaks.
This diagram illustrates the layering of the rocks below the surface.
The sediments that form Massanutten Mountain were folded during a collision millions of years ago.
Older, deeper crystalline rocks were thrust upward to form the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Over millions of years, water wore away the softer and weaker rock throughout the region, leaving behind erosion-resistant rock.
A natural-color image from the Landsat 8 shows the landscape in reflected sunlight.
Some of the oldest rocks in Virginia exist in George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park.
We zoom out in space until the Earth is in full view.
Text, Music courtesy of Yesh Music (A S C A P)
Where on Earth?