Monday, February 5, 2007

Very Cool Topographical Map of Panama

NOTE: Click on the image for a MUCH larger version. It will take some time to load.

This very cool topographical map of Panama is not a satellite map, but something called an SRTM map, or Shuttle Radar Topography Mission map. This is apparently a radar image taken from the space shuttle (radar penetrates the cloud cover). The colors were digitally enhanced to show elevation and topography. The large crater you see in the center of the map is El Valle de Anton, where I live.

For comparison, see this city map of Panama with El Valle de Anton clearly marked:

The El Valle crater is the result of a massive volcanic explosion over a million years ago. After the explosion, the crater filled with rain water and sediment, becoming a lake. About ten thousand years ago a breach opened in the caldera at the site of the present-day Las Mozas waterfall, and all the water drained out. The fertile valley was subsequently settled by Guaymi Indians, who still make up the majority of the population today.

The caldera of the volcano is now a ring of beautiful forested hills that surround the town.

To the right of the El Valle crater you can see the Panama Canal and Lake Gatun.

The borders of Colombia and Costa Rica are drawn in on the right and left of the map, respectively. On the left you see the dormant volcano called Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama. On the slopes of this volcano are the coffee and flower producing town of Boquete, where many North Americans have settled, and the town of Volcan, where many developments are in the works.

I found the SRTM map at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute website here:

They have many more cool maps of Panama.

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