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International Space Station Imagery
Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico
high res (1.1 M) low res (69 K)
ISS016-E-018385 (23 Dec. 2008) --- Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 16 crewmember on the International Space Station. The Luquillo Mountains are located in the northeastern portion of Puerto Rico and rise to elevations of 1,075 meters. According to scientists, the mountains are comprised mainly of volcanic rock material that was uplifted by tectonism - Puerto Rico is located between the junction of the North American and Caribbean plates - approximately 37--28 million years ago. Prevailing easterly winds bring moisture from the Caribbean Sea that falls as precipitation as they cross the mountains. Higher elevations receive more rainfall than lower elevations, leading to subtropical forest types in the lowlands and montane forest types near the summits. This image, taken during the rainy season, illustrates the rich vegetation cover of the mountains. The rapid change in ecosystems with elevation, land use history, and exposure to frequent natural disturbances (such as hurricanes) makes the Luquillo Mountains as ideal location for ecological study. The Luquillo Experimental Forest Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site is contained within the Luquillo National Forest, covering much of the mountains to the southwest of the city of Luquillo (center). Historical human land uses in the Forest -- such as logging, agriculture, charcoal production, and coffee plantations - have determined much of the current ecosystem structure. Results of LTER site research indicates that the forest ecosystems recover more rapidly from natural disturbances (like hurricanes) than they do from human disturbance.

Curator: JSC PAO Web Team | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 10/30/2012
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