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Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Quizzes
Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Image Quiz #20
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(See quiz questions or a list of previous quizzes.)

Where on Earth...? MISR Mystery Image Quiz #20
10/27/2004

Here's another chance to play geographical detective! This natural-color image from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) represents an area of about 380 kilometers x 574 kilometers, and was captured by the instrument's vertical-viewing (nadir) camera in July, 2003. Use any reference materials you like to answer the following 5 questions.

1. Name the nation(s) that appear and any national capital cities included within the image area.

Answer: The nations that appear within the image area are Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, and the extreme north part of Zimbabwe. Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka appears as the pale gray-colored area in the lower left-hand corner of the image.

2. At the top of the image are several large lakes with extensive swamps and marshlands to the east and southeast. Three of the following four statements about the marshlands are true. Which one is false?
(A) A large, solitary bird, whose name derives from its unusually-shaped bill and who is the only known species of its genus, is regularly sighted here in July.
(B) The end of the wet season occurred less than a month prior to the acquisition of this image, and water levels in the marshes are still high.
(C) At least two different kinds of semi-aquatic ruminants can be found in the swamps and marshlands of this region.
(D) Industrial fishing is not allowed in any of the lakes or swamps.

Answer: B is false
The Bangweulu swamps are part of a large complex of major lakes, and the Chambeshi and Luapula as major rivers. One of the most rare and elusive birds in Africa, the shoebill stork (Balaeniceps rex) favors the Bangweulu swamps as one of their last remaining habitats. The rainy season in Zambia is from November to April, so when this image was captured (July) several months had elapsed since the onset of the dry season. Unique to the floodplains of the Bangweulu swamps is the water-loving black lechwe (a semi-aquatic antelope). There are also sitatunga (another antelope adapted to wetland areas) and hippos. Bangweulu is an open access fishery, but with a number of fishing restrictions, and a prohibition against industrial fishing.

3. In the center left-hand portion of the image is a large green-colored area, bordered by a big river on its northern flank. Three of the following four statements about this area are true. Which one is false?
(A) Despite intensive copper mining activities to the south, this forested region does not sit atop a rich deposit of copper ore.
(B) The pattern of bright green and tan situated below the green area indicates a region of many large-scale commercial farms.
(C) One nation's government is planning to construct a high grade road northwards across the area, although it is part of a different nation's territory.
(D) During the 1960s, political leaders of the area made an unsuccessful attempt to secede as an independent nation.

Answer: A is false
The mineral-rich province of the Democratic Republic of Congo which thrusts into the center of Zambia, is known variously as Shaba, Katanga, and also is also sometimes called the Congo Pedicle. The pattern of bright green and tan below the green area is the Mkushi farming block, a commercial maize growing area. A cluster of circular green areas are visible in this area, indicating center pivot irrigation. The Luapula river runs from Lake Bengweulu along the border between Zambia and the DRC, and the government of Zambia has begun planning work on the tarring of the so-called "pedicle road" across Katanga and the construction of a bridge across the Luapula river. Zambia's heavily-developed Copperbelt and the Congo Pedicle are both within central African Copper Belt, and the pedicle area has often been the subject of dispute. In 1961, copper-rich Katanga under Moise Tshombe attempted to secede from the rest of the Congo.

4. A steep escarpment traverses the right-hand portion of the image, and a fertile valley is found to its east. Three of the following four statements about this region are true. Which one is false?
(A) This escarpment is part of a 6000 kilometer-long fault system.
(B) The strange-looking tree, Adansonia digitata, is commonly found in some parts of this region.
(C) The soils in the valley are relatively nutrient-rich because of their volcanic origin.
(D) Both Ceratotherium simum and Loxodonta spp. can be found within these areas.

Answer: Both C and D accepted as false
The steep escarpment in this image lies at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, a vast rift fault system that extends from Lebanon to Mozambique. The Great Rift Valley is created by the rifting and separation of the African and Arabian tectonic plates and is actually a continental extension of the midoceanic ridge. To the east of the central plateau region is the Muchinga Escarpment, which falls about a thousand meters to the Luangwa Valley. The Luangwa Valley is one of the major agro-economical zones in Zambia, and in the parkland and game viewing areas of the Luangwa, vegetation and wildlife is lush and diverse. Pockets of baobab trees (Adansonia digitata) are still common here, despite the large numbers of elephants which eat the boabab and can impede the ability of mature boabab trees to reproduce. The Luangwa’s soils are a mixture of alluvial and medium to heavy textured soils. Although the soils are considered to be relatively nutrient-rich compared with other soil types in Zambia, these soils are not considered to be derived from volcanic sources because the basement rocks are mostly sedimentary, and only the intrusions are volcanic. The endangered White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum) are not found in this part of Africa.

5. In the very bottom right of the image, at the junction of two rivers, is a large, pale green lake. Three of the following four statements about it are true. Which one is false?
(A) Give or take a few meters, the average depth of the lake is about 25 meters.
(B) Almost five thousand people living downstream from the lake lost their homes during the severe floods of 2001.
(C) The "lake" was created by dam construction and is, in fact, a reservoir boasting the largest holding capacity of any on the continent.
(D) A side effect of the dam is that the floodplain downstream no longer receives yearly inundation by floodwaters.

Answer: Either B or C accepted as false
The Cahora Bassa Lake is actually an artificial reservoir on the Zambezi River, resulting from the construction of the Cahora Bassa dam in 1974. The Cahora Bassa dam, and the Kariba dam further upstream, were constructed for the production of hydroelectricity. Although the deepest parts of the Lake extend to about 157 meters, the average depth is between 21 and 26 meters. The 2001 flooding event in Mozambique affected about 400,000 people and displaced approximately 77,000 from their homes. The Lake Kariba reservoir upstream on the Zambezi has a larger holding capacity than Cahora Bassa. Annual flooding used to renew the soil of nearby farmland, but the Cahora Bassa and Kariba dams now prevent yearly flooding.

79 people from all over the world sent in responses before the deadline. Individuals who answered all five questions correctly are listed below in the order in which responses were received. The prize winners are indicated by an asterisk.

  1. Jack Matthews, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA*
  2. André G. Bidá, Valinhos, SP, Brazil*
  3. Peter Riolo, Parma, Italy*
  4. Luca Pietranera, Rome, Italy
  5. Kathy Baylor, San Francisco, CA, USA
  6. Jurek Kimazewski, Queensland, Australia

Individuals who gave correct answers to four of these five difficult questions are listed below:

  1. Alex Sonzogni, Wading River, NY, USA
  2. Ivan P. Anderson, Ditton, Kent, England
  3. Yiannis Raftopoulos, Athens, Greece
  4. William C. Valenti
  5. Eric Mainville
  6. Marion Florjancic, Crotone - Italy
  7. Maciej Koch-Janusz, Wroclaw, Poland
  8. Christine Tait, Anchorage, AK, USA
  9. Rodrigo Huerta C., Viña del Mar, Chile
10. Franz Jeker, Neerach, Switzerland
11. Ian May, Cambridge, UK
12. Steve Coates, Chico, CA, USA
13. Mitch Burrill, Harper's Ferry, WV, USA
14. Donna Brunton, White Rock, NS, Canada
15. Rudy Vonk, Oviedo, Spain
16. Anita Johnson, Bismark, ND, USA
15. Leslie Z. Sokolow
16. Shirley J. Kelly, San Francisco, CA, USA
17. Reilly White, North Dartmouth, MA, USA
18. David Kirschtel, Seattle, WA, USA
18. Iver Pehrson, Harstad, Norway

MISR was built and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC. The Terra satellite is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.

Credit: Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.
Text acknowledgment: Clare Averill (Raytheon ITSS/ Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

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