On March 12, 2014 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite flew over northern Argentina and captured this nearly cloud-free image of a late fall day.
The dark green areas include the pampas -fertile lowlands rich in grasslands and agriculture- and, in the northwest, the Gran Chaco. The Chaco region, named for a word meaning “hunting”, includes forests, fertile wetlands, and drier scrubland. The border with Paraguay lies in this northern region. Bolivia occupies the northeast corner of this image.
On the coast, the sediment-filled, triangle-shaped estuary is Rio de la Plata. About 290 km (180 mi) in length, and between 2 km (1.2 mi) to about 220 km (140 mi) in width, the Rio de la Plata forms part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay. The capital city of Uruguay, Montevideo, is located on the northeastern coast and is visible as a small area of gray pixels close to where the tan sediment disperses. To the southwest, the larger capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, can be seen as a large gray half-circle. Home to over 2,900,000 people in 2013, the city is one of the 20 largest in the world.
The sediment filled, tan river seen snaking from Paraguay to the Rio de la Plata is the Paraná River. About 4,880 km (3,030 mi) long, the river is an important shipping channel, especially in March, when soybean and other fall agricultural products are harvested and shipped downriver.
On March 11, a cargo vessel loaded with 45,000 tons of soybean lost power, then drifted until it grounded just south of the Port or Rosario, near the 407 mi marker of the Paraná River, obstructing river traffic. At one point, according to various local reports, 80 ships remained queued below the vessel, waiting for the river to be re-opened. The cost of such a blockage during such a busy time is immense. According to the Rosario Chamber of Port and Maritime Activities, as quoted in Merco Press, the daily cost for every vessel ranges from 20,000 to 25,000 dollars. The cargo vessel was refloated on March 21, and the river re-opened to shipping on that date.