Satellite spies Christchurch quake

Mar 08, 2011 By Pete Wilton
Satellite spies Christchurch quake

New radar imagery from the Alos satellite is helping researchers to map the devastating earthquake which hit Christchurch, New Zealand, on 22 February.

The Comet team, supported by the Natural Environment Research Council, are using Alos to build up a picture of how the earth deformed during the in a inteferogram.

'It's like a contour map but it's showing to the south-east of Christchurch that the ground motion is towards Alos. That's uplift,' member John Elliott, from Oxford University's Department of Earth Sciences, told Jonathan Amos at BBC News Online.

'And then right under Christchurch, we see subsidence. That's partly due to liquefaction but it's mainly due to the way the Earth deforms when you snap it like an elastic band.'

During earth tremors the loose sediment on which Christchurch is built acts like a liquid and amplifies any shaking. Faults in the area are 'blind', that is invisible from the surface, meaning potential dangers are hard to spot or plan for.

John added: 'People knew they could get earthquakes further into the mountains; that's how they've been built in some ways, through earthquakes and all the faulting... But to get an right under their city will have been a surprise to nearly every single person.'

The team are hoping more data will help them to link the most recent shock with the larger quake which occured in September last year.

Explore further: Glaciers in the grand canyon of Mars?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New Zealand quake region as seen by NASA spacecraft

Feb 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A day after a powerful magnitude 6.3 earthquake rocked Christchurch, a city of 377,000 on New Zealand's South Island, on Feb. 22, 2011, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection ...

New quake rattles New Zealand's Christchurch

Oct 04, 2010

A moderate earthquake measuring 5.2 struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Monday, exactly a month after the country's worst quake in nearly eight decades, US scientists said.

'Record births' after New Zealand quake

Sep 06, 2010

A record number of babies were born in the aftermath of the powerful 7.0 earthquake that rocked New Zealand this weekend, hospital officials said on Monday.

Recommended for you

NASA ocean data shows 'climate dance' of plankton

1 hour ago

The greens and blues of the ocean color from NASA satellite data have provided new insights into how climate and ecosystem processes affect the growth cycles of phytoplankton—microscopic aquatic plants ...

Glaciers in the grand canyon of Mars?

2 hours ago

For decades, planetary geologists have speculated that glaciers might once have crept through Valles Marineris, the 2000-mile-long chasm that constitutes the Grand Canyon of Mars. Using satellite images, ...

NASA support key to glacier mapping efforts

2 hours ago

Thanks in part to support from NASA and the National Science Foundation, scientists have produced the first-ever detailed maps of bedrock beneath glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. This new data will help ...

Advancing the state-of-the-art in seismic science

3 hours ago

Data received from seismic monitoring stations coupled with information rapidly shared via smartphones and the Internet by those who experienced the south Napa temblor is serving to advance scientists' understanding ...

The threat of global sea level rise

3 hours ago

Changes taking place in the oceans around Antarctica could result in an abrupt rise in global sea level, according to a Victoria University of Wellington led study.

User comments : 0