Frozen veins


Venture 100 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle with this Siberian wonderland.


Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA

The European Space Agency's Sentinel-2A satellite snapped this snowy landscape of the Putorana Plateau in northern Central Siberia on 2 March 2016.

The area pictured shows part of the Putoransky State Nature Reserve, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It serves as a major reindeer migration route – an increasingly rare natural phenomenon – and is one of the very few centres of plant species richness in the Arctic.

Virtually untouched by human influence, this isolated mountain range includes pristine forests and cold-water lake and river systems. The lakes are characterised by elongated, fjord-like shapes, such as Lake Ayan in the upper-central part of the image.

Zooming in on the lake we can see that it is mostly ice-covered, with small patches of water peeking through around its lower reaches.

Another feature of this area are the flat-topped mountains, formed by a geological process called ‘plume volcanism’: a large body of magma seeped through Earth’s surface and formed a blanket of basalt kilometres thick. Over time, cracks in the rock filled with water and eroded into the rivers and lakes we see today.

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