Satellite Image, Photo of Western Venezuela

In northwest Venezuela, a vast stretch of plains called the Llanos rests at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite detected numerous fires (red dots) scattered across the region, even in wetland areas between two of the Llanos’ majors rivers: the Apure (running from center toward the right of the image) and the Meta (flowing northeast from bottom left). Where the Meta leaves the Columbia-Venezuela border, it is joined by the Atabapo River and becomes the Orinoco, which flows out to meet the Atlantic. In the high-resolution imagery, dark purplish-brown burn scars are apparent against the green vegetation of the prairies. At bottom right, the grasses of the llanos give way to the upper reaches of the Amazon Rainforest. This image was captured December 12, 2002.
Source: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Satellite Image, Photo of Tablazo Bay, Gulf of Venezuela

Tablazo Bay, Gulf of Venezuela, Venezuela Fall 1997. The Gulf of Venezuela with a heavy load of sediment occupies most of the left portion of this near-vertical-looking view. An inlet of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf is a major shipping lane for Venezuelan oil. The oil is shipped from ports in Maracaibo (upper right) and the new city of Tablazo across the Bay of Tablazo from Maracaibo. The bay is constantly dredged to allow the passage of large oil tankers to and from the ports of Maracaibo and Tablazo and other ports in the northeastern part of Lake Maracaibo (not visible on image). This whole region is considered the oil capital of South America.
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA

Satellite Image, Photo of Gulf of Venezuela Region, Venezuela

Gulf of Venezuela Region, Venezuela June 1985. This west-southwest-looking, high-oblique photograph shows the Gulf of Venezuela, an inlet of the Caribbean Sea (center of photograph). Sometimes referred to as the Gulf of Maracaibo, the gulf extends southward through a shallow, narrow passage past the city of Maracaibo on the western shore into Lake Maracaibo (not visible because of cloud cover), a shallow depression situated between two mountain ranges. Northwest of the Gulf of Venezuela is Colombia’s Guajira Peninsula, a hilly upland composed of crystalline rocks, 80 miles (129 kilometers) long and 30 to 60 miles (48 to 97 kilometers) wide. West of the peninsula are the massive Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, an uplifted block of crystalline rock with a permanent snow cap above 16 000 feet (4880 meters). Isolated from the Andes Mountains to the south, the Santa Marta Range is sometimes compared to Mount Cameroon in western Africa because of their similar latitude, climate, and vegetation. East of the Gulf of Venezuela lies the hilly upland of the Paraguaná Peninsula, south of which is the sediment-filled Gulf of Coro and the Segovia Highlands, deeply dissected plateaus surmounted by a few isolated ranges of low mountains and hills. With the discovery of oil in 1917, the Gulf of Venezuela became a major oil source. Most of the oil fields are located in and around Lake Maracaibo, but oil is also pumped from wells on the Paraguaná Peninsula, home of a major refinery and port near the western city of Fijo.
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA

Satellite Image, Photo of Orinoco, Meta Rivers, Colombia and Venezuela

Orinoco, Meta Rivers, Colombia and Venezuela January 1986. The Orinoco, South America’s second longest river extends from right to left across this southeast-looking view. With its headwaters not located until the early 1950’s, the river now is estimated to be between 1500 and 1700 miles (2415 to 2735 km) long, making it the eighth longest river in the world. In this scene, the Orinoco skirts the heavily forested Paraguaza Range (upper portion of the image) of the western Guiana Highlands. Entering the scene near the bottom center, the Meta River joins the Orinoco just to the left of center of the image and forms part of the border between Colombia (right or south of the river) and Venezuela (left or north of the river). The small-meandering Bita River is also visible just to the south (right) of the Meta River. A large smoke plume is noticeable to the south (right) of the Bita River..
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA

Satellite Image, Photo of Paraguana Peninsula, Venezuela

Paraguana Peninsula, Venezuela July 1995. The dry, sparsely vegetated, and windswept Paraguana Peninsula is featured in this east-southeast-looking view. Major oil refineries are common along the southwestern coast in the cities of Punta Cardon and Punto Fijo. Numerous sandy beaches dot the north and the eastern coasts. The peninsula is noted as a tourist mecca, offering some of the best windsurfing in the world. Near the center of the view, the rather dark area is the 2723 foot (830 meters) high Mount Santa Ana. Elsewhere the sediment-laden waters of the Gulf of Coro are visible south of the main area of the peninsula, in the right center portion of the image. A small delta extending into the gulf is also visible. Finally, in the upper right portion of the image, the city of Coro can be identified..
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA

Satellite Image, Photo of Caroní River and Guri Reservoir, Venezuela

Caroní River and Guri Reservoir, Venezuela October 1985. The dark blue waters of the Guri Reservoir in southeastern Venezuela are visible in the center of this northwest-looking, low-oblique photograph. The Guri Reservoir, built on the Caroní River in the early 1980s, provides water and electricity for steel plants and other industries around Guayana and irrigation projects along the Caroní River. Upon its completion in mid-1986, the dam produced more than 10 gigawatts of electricity, the first in the world to do so. The Caroní River, which originates in southeastern Venezuela near the border with Guyana, flows northward 550 miles (885 kilometers) and joins the sediment-filled Orinoco River near the city of Guayana (not easily discernible in the photograph). Before this photograph was taken, much forest (dark green) had been cleared south of the Orinoco River; subsequently, much land near the southern end of the reservoir and upstream of the Caroní River has been deforested, leading to silting problems within the reservoir..
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA

Satellite Image, Photo of Lago de Valencia (Lake Valencia)

Lago de Valencia (Lake Valencia) is located in north-central Venezuela and is the largest freshwater lake in the country. The lake was formed approximately 2-3 million years ago due to faulting and subsequent damming of the Valencia River. The lake has been completely dry during several discrete periods of its geologic history. Since 1976 Lake Valencia water levels have risen due to diversion of water from neighboring watersheds—it currently acts as a reservoir for the surrounding urban centers (such as Maracay). The vivid green algal blooms present in this image result from a continual influx of untreated wastewater from the surrounding urban, agricultural, and industrial land uses. This contributes to ongoing eutrophication, contamination, and salinization of the lake. Despite its picturesque location between the Cordillera de la Costa to the north and the Serrania del Interior to the south, Lake Valencia’s poor water quality limits opportunities for tourism and recreational activities.
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA

Satellite Image, Photo of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela

Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela August 1985. Lake Maracaibo, a semi-enclosed estuary and largest lake in South America, can be seen in this south-southwest-looking view. Lake Maracaibo covers an area of 5100 sq. miles (13,210 sq. km), and extends inland 110 miles (180 km). Tablazo Strait (midway between bottom center and bottom left) connects the lake with the Gulf of Venezuela and Caribbean Sea. The city of Maracaibo is located on the west bank of the 34-mi (55-km)-long strait. The Maracaibo Basin is extremely hot, humid, low, and almost surrounded by mountains (cloud-covered). The northern lake basin is semiarid, but in the south the average annual rainfall is 50 inches (127 cm). Petroleum is the principal industry within the basin. Lake Maracaibo is one of the major oil-producing areas of the world. Just above center of the image a plume of sediment spreads from the delta of the Catatumbo River, the chief supplier of fresh water to the lake. Dredging of the navigation channel through Tablazo Strait has resulted in increased salinity of the lake; eutrophication due to the discharge of sewage and industrial waste has degraded the water quality of the lake, as has pollution from oil exploration and production activities..
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA

Satellite Image, Photo of Lake Maracaibo Area, Venezuela

Lake Maracaibo Area, Venezuela January 1990. Maracaibo, Venezuela’s second most populous city with more than 1.5 million, sits along the western edge of the strait connecting Tablazo Bay with the northern end of Lake Maracaibo. The short-flowing Palmar River and its delta can be seen on the northwest side of Lake Maracaibo. The Gulf of Venezuela, shown with sediment swirls immediately north of Tablazo Bay, provides a natural water route into the Caribbean Sea. Sandy beaches lie along the southern margin of the Gulf of Venezuela. Most of the landscape around the Maracaibo area is classified as lowlands. The darker, densely vegetated area, partially obscured by clouds west of Maracaibo, are the Perijá Mountains, part of the northern extension of the Andes Mountains. These mountains, with some elevations exceeding 10 000 feet (3050 meters) above sea level, form part of the boundary between Venezuela and Colombia. The very thin line along the northwestern edge of the photograph appears to be a northeast-southwest-aligned railroad right-of-way that crosses the Guajira Peninsula in Colombia. Since the early 1900s, the production of oil has been Maracaibo’s major economic asset. Most of the oil comes from Lake Maracaibo and, to a lesser extent, from the Gulf of Venezuela.
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA

Satellite Image, Photo of Orinoco, Capanaparo, and Cinaruco Rivers, Venezuela

Orinoco, Capanaparo, and Cinaruco Rivers, Venezuela January 1986. The Orinoco River, the world’s eighth largest river, can be seen flowing to the west and north of the Guyana Highlands in the top portion of the image. The river is located in the Llanos of western Venezuela. Estimated to be 1500 to 1700 miles (2415 to 2735 km) long, the Orinoco River is the second longest river in South America and is navigable for most of its length. The river rises in the southern Guyana Highlands and flows in a wide arc around the highlands through tropical rainforests and savannas. It enters the Atlantic Ocean through a large, expanding delta in northeast Venezuela. The Capanaparo River is visible entering the scene just to the right of the bottom center of the image. It empties into the Orinoco River near the center of the image. The Capanaparo River is 300 miles (480 km) long and rises in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains. The river flows generally eastward across the plain, which has a flat, swampy terrain. Numerous old sand dunes, many with grass cover, can be seen on either side of the river. Near the left center of the image, the Cinaruco River can be seen entering the Orinoco River. Just above the left center of the image, the Arauca River is visible entering the Orinoco..
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA/JPL/NIMA