The Sierra Madre
November 24, 2007
The towering peaks of the Sierra Madre of Mexico dominate this image acquired by Aqua on February 15, 2006. The â€œOccidentalâ€ or western portion of this fabled mountain range appears as a dark brownish band running along the left side of the image, bracketed by the lush, green oasis of the Pacific coast to the left and the much lower elevation â€œaltiplanoâ€ or high plain to the right. The top of the â€œOrientalâ€ or eastern portion of the range is also visible on the right side of the image; the two branches converge further south, beyond the margin of this particular image. These features are joined to their counterparts on the U.S. side of the border: the Sierra Nevada, Great Basin, and Rocky Mountains, respectively. The forces that created this highly varied topography are still at work today, creating a large volume of volcanic and seismic activity in the area. This is due to the fact that Mexico sits atop several tectonic plates; some are spreading apart while others are being pushed together, producing stress - of several varieties. The region is also a hotspot of biological diversity, home to thousands of endemic plants as well as critical winter habitat for monarch butterflies.
Topics: Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, Sierra Madre de Chiapas, Geography of Mesoamerica, Environment, Volcano, Plate tectonics, Mexico