March 10, 2014 - Sediment near Christchurch, New Zealand

Sediment near Christchurch, New Zealand

The waters near Christchurch, New Zealand glowed bright aquamarine on March 6, 2014, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite passed overhead and captured this true-color image. This bright color was most likely the result of sediment washed into the ocean from recent heavy rain and flooding.

A powerful storm passed over New Zealand March 4-5, bringing with it torrential rains and howling winds. A total of 74 mm (3 in) of rain fell in that 48 hour period, according to the national meteorological service, MetService. Over 100 homes were flooded and at least 4,000 were reported without power in and around Christchurch.

NASA’s Earth Observatory consulted with Goddard Space Flight Center oceanographer Norman Kuring regarding the colors in the ocean. “When it comes to identifying a sediment resuspension event”, he responded in an email, “the only way to be positive about the causes of the various colors in a satellite image like this is to have someone sample the water, but to go from dark to aquamarine over a few days over a large area with a strong storm passing in between is almost as good as being there with filters in hand.”

The Earth Observatory article, which shows Christchurch before and after the passing storm, can be found at:

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 3/6/2014
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC