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Recent earthquake damage can be seen from space

City News Service | 7/12/2019, midnight

Damage from the two strong earthquakes that rattled Southern California can be seen from space, according to the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis team at JPL used synthetic aperture radar data from the ALOS-2 satellite to produce a map showing surface displacement from the magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 quakes of July 4 and 5, respectively. The epicenter of the quakes was near the city of Ridgecrest in Kern County, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The post-quake imagery was acquired Monday, and compared with April 8 data from the same region, according to JPL.

Color cycles each represent 4.8 inches of ground displacement either toward or away from the satellite. Linear features that cut the color fringes in the southeast indicate likely locations of surface rupture caused by the earthquakes, and “noisy” areas in the northwest may indicate locations where the ground surface was disturbed by them, JPL scientists said.

State and federal scientists, including those from the California Geological Survey and U.S. Geological Survey, are using the surface deformation map in the field for assessing the damages and mapping the faults that broke during the two major earthquakes as well as thousands of aftershocks.

In the aftermath of the earthquakes, NASA’s Earth Science Disasters Program is in communication with the California Earthquake Clearinghouse, which is coordinating response efforts with the California Air National Guard, the USGS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

NASA analysts are using data from satellites to produce visualizations of land deformation and potential landslides, among other earthquake impacts, and are making them available to response agencies. NASA’s Disasters Program promotes the use of satellite observations in predicting, preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters around the world.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency provided the ALOS-2 data for the production of the map. The ARIA team’s analysis was funded by NASA’s Disasters Program, according to JPL.