Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Future earthquake risk in Haiti: Startling images of ground motion help scientists understand risk of aftershocks

Date:
February 10, 2010
Source:
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Summary:
Analyzing images captured using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) by Japan's ALOS satellite before and just after Haiti's earthquake on Jan. 12, scientists are making new discoveries. The images show that the earthquake rupture did not reach the surface -- unusual for an earthquake this size. More importantly, the images confirm that only the western half of the fault actually ruptured this time. Scientists are interpreting the data to establish the probability of another large quake in the next 20-30 years.

Scientists at the University of Miami have analyzed images based on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observations taken before and just after Haiti's earthquake, on January 12. The images obtained from Japan's ALOS satellite were made available to the scientific community through the European Space Agency (ESA) and GEO, the Group of Earth Observations. According to the new data, the images confirm that only the western half of the fault segment ruptured in the current earthquake. Scientists are analyzing the evidence to try to understand the possibility of another major quake hitting Port au Prince in the near future.
Credit: Group on Earth Observations, JAXA, UM Rosenstiel School

Scientists at the University of Miami have analyzed images based on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observations taken before and just after Haiti's earthquake, on January 12. The images reveal surprising new details.

The images were obtained using data from Japan's ALOS satellite and made available to the scientific community through the efforts of the European Space Agency (ESA) and GEO, the Group of Earth Observation, an umbrella consortium of countries that promotes the exchange of satellite data to efficiently observe our planet.

According to the new data, the earthquake rupture did not reach the surface -- unusual for an earthquake this size. More importantly, the images confirm that only the western half of the fault segment that last ruptured in 1751 actually ruptured in the current earthquake.

"We're still waiting for the other shoe to drop," said Tim Dixon, professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.

The images reveal other startling facts, "Given the plate tectonic setting scientists expected mainly sideways motion, yet there was a large amount of vertical motion during the earthquake," said Falk Amelung, professor of geology and geophysics at RSMAS. "This explains how such a relatively small rupture was able to generate such a large earthquake."

The data shows the earthquake occurred on or near the Enriquillo Fault, where most scientists suspected but until now did not have enough evidence to prove it. "This is a relief, because it shows that our current ideas about the tectonics of the area are correct," Amelung added.

Dixon is looking at every bit of evidence to try to understand the possibility of another major quake hitting Port au Prince in the near future. "There's a reasonable probability of another large quake, similar to the January 12 event, striking Port au Prince within the next 20 to 30 years," Dixon said. "I'd like to see them relocate critical infrastructure such as government buildings, schools and hospitals, farther north out of the danger zone."

In 1986, at the dawn of the GPS age, scientists from the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Lab, including Dixon began, a set of geodetic measurements on the island of Hispaniola. A decade later, those measurements would reveal that the Enriquillo fault in southern Haiti was a significant earthquake hazard. "In a very real sense, those early measurements set the stage for our current understanding of this dangerous fault zone. Scientists have been studying this fault and others on the island, ever since," Dixon said.

Shimon Wdowinski and Guoqing Lin, professors of geology and geophysics at RSMAS; Fernando Greene, graduate student at RSMAS and Sang-Hoon Hong, post-doctoral research scientist at RSMAS and at Florida International University also contributed to the analysis of the new images.

The work of the Rosenstiel School in active tectonics is supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP). Other institutions involved in the analysis of the images included JAXA (the Japanese Space Exploration Agency) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "Future earthquake risk in Haiti: Startling images of ground motion help scientists understand risk of aftershocks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209152237.htm>.
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. (2010, February 10). Future earthquake risk in Haiti: Startling images of ground motion help scientists understand risk of aftershocks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209152237.htm
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "Future earthquake risk in Haiti: Startling images of ground motion help scientists understand risk of aftershocks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209152237.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins