PASADENA, Calif., June 24 (UPI) — The U.S. space agency says it has recorded the first airborne radar images of the deformation of the Earth’s surface caused by a major earthquake.
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said the data involves the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that occurred in Mexico’s state of Baja California on April 4. Scientists said the images reveal the earthquake moved the Calexico, Calif., region in a downward and southerly direction approximately 31 inches,
The science team said it used a JPL-developed radar system — the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar– to measure the surface deformation. The maps the system generates show minute changes in the distance between the aircraft, which flies at 41,000 feet, and the ground during repeated global positioning system-guided flights.
The April 4 quake — the area’s largest in 120 years — was centered 32 miles south-southeast of Calexico, Calif., along the boundary between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates, scientists said.
“The goal of the ongoing study is to understand the relative hazard of the San Andreas and faults to its west like the Elsinore and San Jacinto faults, and capture ground displacements from larger quakes,” said JPL geophysicist Andrea Donnellan, who is leading the research.
The newly release maps are available at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/UAVSARimage20100623.html.
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