Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in Spain • Earth.com

Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in Spain

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in the southeastern corner of Spain.

“The park’s semi-arid climate and volcanic features contribute to the peculiar landscape along more than 60 kilometers of the Mediterranean coastline,” reports NASA.

The Tabernas Desert, which is considered mainland Europe’s only desert, lies 30 kilometers to the north of Cabo de Gata-Níjar Park.

“Both the desert and the park are part of Spain’s Almería Province, the driest area of Europe. The region receives just 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rain per year, though the coastal areas are somewhat more humid,” explains NASA. “There is enough moisture to support nearly 1,000 species of plants, such as the European fan palm and a thorny shrub known as jujube.”

“When viewed from orbit, the park’s most obvious features are volcanic – that is, the 5 percent of the volcanic complex that rises above the water. The remaining 95 percent is hidden from view below the sea’s surface.”

According to NASA, volcanic activity began here about 16 million years ago and ended about 8 million years ago. 

“Wind and seawater have eroded some of the lava flows into smooth, strange shapes. Other structures just offshore have partially crumbled away. For instance, the tall, jagged rocks jutting from the water at Arrecife de la Sierena are thought to be remains of an old volcanic structure.”

The image was captured on May 17, 2022 by the Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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