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: Africa, from a CATS point of view

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

Africa, from a CATS point of view

13 hours ago

From Saharan dust storms to icy clouds to smoke on the opposite side of the continent, the first image from NASA's newest cloud- and aerosol-measuring instrument provides a profile of the atmosphere above ...

Climate change may flatten famed surfing waves

Feb 25, 2015

On a summer day in 1885, three Hawaiian princes surfed at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on crudely constructed boards made from coastal redwoods, bringing the sport to the North American mainland.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.