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Sediments Along Western Coast of Madagascar

18.8S 46.2E

October 4th, 2011 Category: Sediments

Madagascar - October 2nd, 2011

The island of Madagascar can be divided into three broad geographic zones. These include the highlands, a plateau region in the center of the island ranging in altitude from 2,500 to 4,500 ft (762 to 1,372 m) above sea level; a narrow and steep escarpment that runs the length of the eastern coast and contains much of the island’s remaining tropical rain forest; and a wide, dry plain that gently slopes from the western boundaries of the highlands toward the Mozambique Channel.

The central highlands is the most densely populated part of the island and is characterized by terraced, rice-growing valleys lying between grassy, deforested hills. Here, erosion has exposed the island’s red laterite soil, source of the country’s sobriquet “The Red Island”. Some of this red soil can be seen, carried by rivers, as orange-colored spilling off the coast.

The western coast features many protected harbors, but silting is a major problem caused by sediment from the high levels of inland erosion carried by rivers crossing the vast western plains. Once again, these orange-red sediments can be observed along the western coastline in this image.

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