A cloud-free day in the Rocky Mountains. Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a clear view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, which cover 3,000 miles across the western half of North America.
The photo includes a portion of the Rockies that is about 400 miles long in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta and in Montana, Idaho, and Washington.
The image was captured on December 3, 2020 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The Rocky Mountains formed 80 million to 55 million years ago during the Laramide orogeny, in which a number of plates began sliding underneath the North American plate. The angle of subduction was shallow, resulting in a broad belt of mountains running down western North America. Since then, further tectonic activity and erosion by glaciers have sculpted the Rockies into dramatic peaks and valleys. At the end of the last ice age, humans began inhabiting the mountain range. After explorations of the range by Europeans, such as Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and Americans, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, natural resources such as mineral and fur drove the initial economic exploitation of the mountains, although the range itself never experienced a dense population.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer