Dust blew off the coast of Argentina in late November 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image on November 22, 2011. The dust plume appears to originate southwest of Bahía Blanca, the gray city on the shores of the silt-laden bay, and blow in a counter-clockwise arc toward the northeast.
This image also shows part of a phytoplankton bloom (image lower right). Dust storms often deposit iron and other nutrients into the ocean, providing fuel for the tiny, plant-like organisms. In recent months, ash from Chile’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle has also blown over this area, bringing nutrients such as iron to the Atlantic Ocean and feeding the bloom. Also, in this region the sea floor drops significantly east of the South American coast, phytoplankton also benefit from upwelling of nutrient-rich waters from the ocean depths.