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Topography of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico

17.6N 94.9W

March 5th, 2012 Category: Mountains

Mexico - December 29th, 2011

This wide-swath ASAR image shows the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, an isthmus in Mexico that represents the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. The isthmus includes the part of Mexico lying between the 94th and 96th meridians west longitude, or the southeastern parts of Veracruz and Oaxaca, including small areas of Chiapas and Tabasco. The states of Tabasco and Chiapas are east of the isthmus, with Veracruz and Oaxaca on the west.

At its narrowest point, the isthmus is 200 km (120 mi) across from gulf to gulf or 192 km (119 mi) to the head of Laguna Superior on the Pacific coast. The Sierra Madre breaks down at this point into a broad, plateau-like ridge. The northern side of the isthmus is swampy and densely covered with jungle. Visible in the upper right quadrant is the Términos Lagoon.

The Sierra Madre de Oaxaca mountains flatten out to form Chivela Pass before the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains resume to the south, so geographically the isthmus divides North America from Central America. However, the southern edge of the North American tectonic plate lies across the Motagua Fault in Guatemala, so geologically, the division between North America and Central America (on the Caribbean Plate) is much farther south than the isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Cañadas Canyonlike Valleys and Montañas del Oriente by Mexico-Guatemala Border

15.9N 90.6W

February 15th, 2012 Category: Mountains

Mexico - January 3rd, 2012

This APM image shows a change from mountains to flat terrain by the border of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala. Visible in the upper left quadrant is the Lacandon Jungle (Spanish: Selva Lacandona), an area of rainforest which stretches from Chiapas, Mexico into Guatemala and into the southern part of the Yucatán Peninsula. The heart of this rainforest is located in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas near the border with Guatemala in the Montañas del Oriente region of the state.

The Lacandon has approximately 1.9 million hectares stretching from southeast Chiapas into northern Guatemala and into the southern Yucatán Peninsula. The Chiapas portion is located on the Montañas del Oriente (Eastern Mountains) centered on a series of canyonlike valleys called the Cañadas, between smaller mountain ridges oriented from northwest to southeast. It is bordered by the Guatemalan border on two sides with Comitán de Domínguez to the southwest and the city of Palenque to north.

The dark red spot near the right edge of the image is the Laguna Lachuá, a Karstic lake in Guatemala. It is located in the middle of a national park covered with tropical rain forest, northwest of Cobán, near the border between the departments of Alta Verapaz and El Quiché. The lake is near circular in shape and is probably a cenote or doline. The Peyan river forms the principal water inflow and the Lachua river its main outflow.

Nezahualcoyotl Lake on Grijalva River, Mexico – January 16th, 2012

17.1N 93.3W

January 16th, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers

Mexico - December 31st, 2011

This APM image shows Nezahualcoyotl Lake, an artificial lake created by the hydroelectric Malpaso Dam, on the Grijalva River. The Malpaso Dam (also known as Nezahualcoyotl and Raudales Malpaso) is an embankment dam near Tecpatán in Chiapas, Mexico.  It was the first major dam on the Grijalva River.

The Grijalva River, formerly known as Tabasco River, is a 480 km long river in southeastern Mexico. The river rises in Chiapas highlands and flows from Chiapas to the state of Tabasco through the Sumidero Canyon into the Bay of Campeche. The river’s drainage basin is 134,400 km² in size.

Lagoons Near Shores of Gulf of Tehuantepec, Mexico

17.8N 97.7W

December 9th, 2011 Category: Lakes

Mexico - November 21st, 2011

A series of lagoons can be observed near the shores of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, including Laguna Superior (greyish tan, left) and Laguna Inferior (greenish blue, just right of the former), in the state of Oaxaca. The bright green lagoon to the right is shared between Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Laguna Superior marks the the narrowest point of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which is 200 km (120 mi) across from gulf to gulf, or 192 km (119 mi) to the head of the lagoon. The Sierra Madre breaks down at this point into a broad, plateau-like ridge, whose elevation, at the highest point reached by the Ferrocarril Transistmico railway at Chivela Pass, is 224 m (735 ft).

Sediments by Yucatán Peninsula Coast, Mexico

17.4N 94.3W

October 26th, 2011 Category: Sediments

Mexico - October 24th, 2011

Sediments and algal growth line the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, giving it a bright greenish blue frame. The coastline to the south and the west is mostly sediment free.

Hanging over the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is a small area of convection, concentrated on the northern side. The isthmus includes the southeastern parts of the states of Veracruz and Oaxaca, including small areas of Chiapas and Tabasco. The states of Tabasco and Chiapas are east of the isthmus, with Veracruz and Oaxaca to the west.