Sandy Cape and Fraser Island, Australia are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 17 crewmember on the International Space Station. Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, includes Great Sandy National Park and is located along the coastline of Queensland, Australia. The island was designated a World Heritage site in 1992, in part due to its outstanding preservation of geological processes related to sand dune formation. According to scientists, the island’s dune fields preserve a record of sand deposition and movement related to sea level rise and fall extending back over 700,000 years. In addition to sand dunes, the island also preserves an interesting range of vegetation — including vine rainforest, stands of eucalypt trees, and mangroves — and diverse fauna including crabs, parrots, sugar gliders and flying foxes. This view highlights the northernmost portion of the island, known as Sandy Cape. Active white sand dunes contrast with dark green vegetation that anchors older dune sets. Irregular patches of sand dunes surrounded by vegetation are known as sand blows (or blowouts), formed when the vegetation cover is disturbed — by wind, fire, or human activities. The exposed underlying sand can then move and form new dunes, sometimes at rates of up to one meter per year. Coastal sand dune fields — such as the one located along the eastern side of Sandy Cape (center) — will remain active until anchored by vegetation, or until no more sand is available to form new dunes.
Image credit: NASA
Read full caption:
More about the Crew Earth Observation experiment aboard the International Space Station:
More about space station science:
I’m starting a new Flickr group about Space Station Science. Please feel welcome to join! www.flickr.com/groups/stationscience/