MISR Where on Earth...? Quiz #28

The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) team at NASA is pleased to announce the reinstatement of their Where on Earth…? quizzes at their new home on NASA Climate! MISR has a long tradition of publishing these challenging geographical mysteries. The format has changed slightly from previous quizzes, so make sure to read the instructions below.

Here’s how it works: When you press “Start,” you will be presented with nine multiple-choice questions (one question for each of MISR's nine cameras) about the area seen in the image in the background. You are encouraged to research the answers using any websites or reference materials you like. You cannot go back to previous questions, so make sure of your answer before proceeding! If you answer all questions correctly, you will have a chance to enter for a prize. The deadline for prize entries is November 23, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. PST.

This natural color image was acquired by the vertical-viewing camera of the MISR instrument in January 2016 and represents an area of about 390 kilometers by 300 kilometers. Note that north is not necessarily at the top.


1. Where on Earth?

What country or countries are visible within this image?

Two countries are visible in this image: Chile and Argentina. The border between them passes through the lake in the middle of the image.

2. Water matters

The largest lake in the image has several names. It has only one outlet, which forms the headwaters of a scenic river. Which of the following is FALSE about the lake or river?

This lake spans Chile and Argentina, and is called General Carrera Lake in Chile and Lake Buenos Aires in Argentina. The only outlet forms the Baker River. The hydroelectric project called HidroAysén would have built two dams on the Baker and three on the Pascua River, but its environmental permits were overturned by the Chilean government in 2014 after protests by residents and environmentalists. The research about flooding during the last ice age by Glasser et al. appeared in Scientific Reports in February 2016 (link provided under "More information" on the final page). The local native people are called the Tehuelche, and their name for the lake is Chelenko, which means troubled or stormy waters rather than cold waters. Due to the input from glacier meltwater, the lake rises and lightens in color in the summer.

3. Beautiful islands

Within the lake, a geologic formation composed of three islands attracts many photographers to the area. What are the names of each of the islands (in English)?

The three islands of Las Cavernas de Mármol are the Cathedral (El Catedral), the Chapel (La Capilla), and the Cave (La Cueva).

4. Historic Images

Catedral de Mármol, Dan Lundberg, CC BY-SA 2.0

What is the name (in English) of the book in which the oldest known photographs of these islands can be found?

Catedral de Mármol, Dan Lundberg, CC BY-SA 2.0
The first photographs of the islands were published by the Italian explorer Clemente Onelli in his 1904 book Trepando Los Andes (Climbing the Andes). He probably took the photographs himself during his 1896-1897 expedition sponsored by Argentina.

5. Explosive inquiry

One of the mountains visible within the image is actually a volcano. Which of the following is FALSE about the volcano?

Though the Hudson Volcano (Cerro Hudson) is documented to have erupted in 1891, this fact apparently escaped the notice of scientists until the volcano erupted in 1971, according to the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program. The volcano’s largest recent eruptions occurred over several days in August 1991, but due to the low numbers of people in the area the only major harm was to livestock. Mt Pinatubo erupted earlier in 1991 and had much more media coverage. In October of 2011, there was a minor eruption of the volcano, which caused the evacuation of 140 (not several thousand) people. The research on the ash layers by Weller et al. appeared in the Bulletin of Volcanology in June 2014 (link provided on the final page under "More information").

6. Ancient Art

Also within the image is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its ancient artwork. About what age is the oldest art?

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Cueva de las Manos, so called because of the thousands of stenciled hands painted on the cave walls, though there are also other scenes. The cave art dates from many different time periods, but the oldest art is estimated to be 9,300 to 13,000 years old.

7. Name that Mammal

Cueva de las Manos, Suzko, CC BY-SA 3.0

Among the subjects of the artwork at the Cueva de las Manos is a certain herbivorous mammal. What is the name of that mammal?

Cueva de las Manos, Suzko, CC BY-SA 3.0
The herbivorous mammal is the guanaco, a wild relative of the llama.

8. Guanaco facts

Guanaco in Argentina, David, CC BY 2.0

Which of the following statements about guanacos is FALSE?

Guanaco in Argentina, David, CC BY 2.0
Guanacos are remarkable in their ability to handle extreme conditions, living both in the driest non-polar desert on Earth and at high elevations in the Andes. They rely on their speed to escape predators, mainly pumas. Although the guanaco is a famous spitter, it only has a range of about 2 m (6 ft).

9. Road trip

To view the attractions just described, you might choose to take a road trip along the route that hugs the west shore of the lake. What is the name of this road AND how long is it?

This road is Chile’s Route 7, known as the Carterra Austral (not to be confused with Argentina’s Route 40, which runs along the eastern shore of the lake). It is 1240 km long. Construction was begun in 1976 under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, and it was not fully completed until 2000!