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Photos: Artistic Views of Earth from Above

Cubism

earth as art

Startling red patches sprout from an agricultural landscape that looks almost like a Cubist painting. The fields in this part of eastern Kazakhstan follow the contours of the land—long and narrow in mountain valleys, and large and rectangular over the plains. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

"Startling red patches sprout from an agricultural landscape that looks almost like a Cubist painting," the USGS said. The fields, shown in this satellite image from Sept. 9, 2013, in this part of eastern Kazakhstan follow the contours of the land, so they are long and narrow in mountain valleys, and large and rectangular over the plains, the USGS reports.

Etched in Snow

earth as art

Is this a black-and-white image? No, this is a natural color image of snow-covered southwestern Russia. Windbreaks, roads, and fence lines look like random pencil marks near the Volga River, which flows across the top of the image. The thick lines are trees planted to protect fields from dry wind and erosion; these windbreaks retain snow, allowing more moisture to penetrate into the soil. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

This natural-color image of snow-covered southwestern Russia, captured on Feb. 1, 2014, shows windbreaks, roads and fence lines near the Volga River flowing across the top of the image. The thick lines are trees.

Faults

earth as art

When landmasses collide, rock layers can break. Geologists call these breaks 'faults.' Rock layers are offset in this image in western China, making the faults remarkably clear. The different colors indicate rocks that formed at different times and in different environments. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

In this Landsat-8 image, snapped on July 30, 2013, the rock layers in western China are offset enough to show fault lines. The different colors indicate the time and place the rocks formed.

Ink Stain

earth as art

Like blue ink bleeding onto parchment, the Khor Kalmat lagoon branches off the Arabian Sea and spills into the southern Pakistan landscape near the Makran Coast Range. Mudflats cover almost the entire lagoon, which fills with shallow water at high tides. The small areas of green are isolated pockets of mangrove forest. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

"Like blue ink bleeding onto parchment, the Khor Kalmat lagoon branches off the Arabian Sea and spills into the southern Pakistan landscape near the Makran Coast Range. Mudflats cover almost the entire lagoon, which fills with shallow water at high tides. The small areas of green are isolated pockets of mangrove forest," the USGS said. The image was captured on June 9, 2014.

Salt Glaciers

earth as art

The patterns and colors in the Zagros Mountains of Iran are interesting enough. For example, the infrared view provides a patina-like outline to the mountains. But something more happened to this unique landscape. Interrupting the mountain patterns are irregular dark patches called salt glaciers. What began as salt domes buried under the rock pushed up through the Earth, squeezing to the surface like toothpaste. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

This infrared view of the Zagros Mountains in Iran was snapped on Dec. 3, 2014. Dark patches called salt glaciers interrupt the mountainous pattern. According to the USGS, these salt glaciers began their lives as salt domes buried under rock, before being pushed up through the earth, "squeezing to the surface like toothpaste."

Sloppy Paint Job

earth as art

What appear to be smatterings of paint on a wall represent an amalgam of human-made and natural features in southwestern Iran. The dark red shape in the center of the image is Shadegan Pond, which is the northern part of the larger Shadegan Wetlands. Red areas depict actively growing vegetation, and the rectangular shapes in the upper left reveal irrigated farmland. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

In southwestern Iran, a mix of human-made and natural features create a lovely painting of sorts. Shadegan Pond is the dark red shape at the center of the image. The red areas indicate vegetation; irrigated farmland looks like rectangular shapes in the upper left of the image, which was taken on Oct. 12, 2014.

Wind Power

earth as art

A bold paint stroke on a busy purple canvas is actually part of the Dasht-e Lut Desert in southeastern Iran. The linear features are kaluts, huge rocky formations shaped by wind erosion. The streamlined forms vary in size, but some kaluts stretch more than 100 kilometers (62 miles). (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

Part of the Dasht-e Lut Desert in southeastern Iran appears as a bold brushstroke through a purple canvas. Huge rocky formations created by wind erosion, called kaluts (the linear features) can also be seen in the image. Some kaluts stretch more than 62 miles (100 km). The image was captured by Landsat 8 on June 12, 2014.

Australian Iron Ore

earth as art

Within the Hamersley Iron Province in Western Australia, Landsat's shortwave infrared and near-infrared detectors highlight different types of rock. The oval in the upper center part of the image is a geological feature called Rocklea Dome. The dark meanders within the dome are channel iron deposits. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

Different types of rocks are revealed in this image by Landsat 8's shortwave infrared and near-infrared detectors, according to the USGS. Rocklea Dome stands out as an oval in the upper center of the image. The meandering features in the dome are iron deposits. The image, showing the Hamersley Iron Province in Western Australia, was captured on Dec. 19, 2014.

Melted Colors

earth as art

This enhanced image of Western Australia resembles a mixture of crayons that melted in the sun. The yellow sand dunes of the Great Sandy Desert cover the upper right portion of the image. Red splotches indicate burned areas from grass and forest fires, and the colors in the rest of the image depict different types of surface geology. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

This enhanced image of Western Australia, taken on Dec. 5, 2014, looks a little like melted crayons, USGS said. The yellow sand dunes of the Great Sandy Desert can be seen in the upper right of the image, while the red splotches indicate burned areas, according to the USGS.

Mount Taranaki

earth as art

A nearly perfect circle of forest delineates the boundary of Egmont National Park in New Zealand. Snow-capped Mount Taranaki marks the center of the park, which is surrounded by green farmland. (Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

This satellite image, taken on June 1, 2014, shows the near-perfect circle of forest that separates New Zealand's Egmont National Park from the rest of the environment. At the center of the park stands the snow-capped Mount Taranaki.

Live Science Staff
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