Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mexico quake studies uncover surprises for California

Date:
December 21, 2010
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
New technologies developed by NASA and other agencies are revealing surprising insights into a major earthquake that rocked parts of the American Southwest and Mexico in April, including increased potential for more large earthquakes in Southern California.

This UAVSAR image, covering the time period from October 21, 2009 to April 13, 2010, shows ground deformation that is largely a result of the April 4, 2010 earthquake in Baja California. Black lines indicate interpreted faults, and red lines show where surface rupture was confirmed by geologists in the field.
Credit: NASA JPL/USGS/California Geological Survey/Google

New technologies developed by NASA and other agencies are revealing surprising insights into a major earthquake that rocked parts of the American Southwest and Mexico in April, including increased potential for more large earthquakes in Southern California.

Related Articles


At the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, scientists from NASA and other agencies presented the latest research on the magnitude 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake, that region's largest in nearly 120 years. Scientists have studied the earthquake's effects in unprecedented detail using data from GPS, advanced simulation tools and new remote sensing and image analysis techniques, including airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR), satellite synthetic aperture radar and NASA's airborne Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR).

Among their findings:

  • The earthquake is among the most complex ever documented along the Pacific/North American tectonic plate boundary. The main shock activated segments of at least six faults, some unnamed or previously unrecognized. It triggered slip along faults north of the border as far as 165 kilometers (about 100 miles) away, including the San Andreas, San Jacinto, Imperial and Superstition Hills Faults, and many faults in California's Yuha Desert, some not previously mapped. Some of this slip was quiet, without detectable earthquakes. Activity was observed on several northwest-trending faults due for potentially large earthquakes.
  • The rupture's northern end in Southern California resembles the frayed end of a rope. The complex, 32-kilometer (20-mile) network of faults that slipped there during and after the earthquake-- many unnamed or previously unrecognized--reveals how the earthquake distributed strain.
  • Satellite radar, UAVSAR and GPS station data show additional slip along some of the Yuha Desert faults in the months after the main earthquake. Recent data from UAVSAR and satellite radar show this slip slowed and probably stopped in late summer or early fall.
  • Mexico's Sierra Cucapah mountains were, surprisingly, lowered, not raised, by the earthquake.
  • The main rupture jumped an 11-kilometer (7-mile) fault gap-more than twice that ever observed before.
  • UAVSAR and satellite radar reveal deep faulting that may be a buried continuation of Mexico's Laguna Salada Fault that largely fills the gap to California's Elsinore Fault. This could mean the fault system is capable of larger earthquakes. A connection had only been inferred before.
  • Analyses show a northward advance of strain after the main shock, including a pattern of triggered fault slip and increased seismicity. The July 7, 2010 magnitude 5.4 Collins Valley earthquake on the San Jacinto Fault may have been triggered by the main earthquake.
  • Forecasting methods in development suggest earthquakes triggered by the main shock changed hazard patterns, while experimental virtual reality scenarios show a substantial chance of a damaging earthquake north of Baja within three to 30 years of a Baja quake like the one in April.

"This earthquake is changing our understanding of earthquake processes along the Pacific/North American plate boundary, including earthquake physics, forecast modeling and regional faulting processes," said Professor John Fletcher of the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education at Ensenada (CICESE), Baja Calif., Mexico. Fletcher led a multi-agency Mexico fault mapping effort that included the U.S. Geological Survey and California Geological Survey, among others.

UAVSAR, developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., uses a technique called interferometric synthetic aperture radar to measure ground deformation over large areas to a precision of 0.1 to 0.5 centimeters (0.04 to 0.2 inches). A NASA Gulfstream III aircraft carrying the radar flew repeat GPS-guided passes over the California border region twice in 2009 and four times since the April earthquake, imaging it and continuing deformation since. Field mapping since April has demonstrated its ability to show remarkable surface rupture detail.

"UAVSAR is blanketing California's seismic danger zones about every six months to detect changes such as earthquakes or creeping faults," said JPL Geophysicist Eric Fielding. "The major earthquake in Baja last April is providing direct evidence that time-critical monitoring of hazardous faults is possible through NASA-funded technology."

"The accurate and detailed imagery derived from synthetic aperture radar, and in particular UAVSAR, produced a more complete picture of fault patterns, precisely guiding field geologists to remote areas of fault rupture and saving significant mapping time," said geologist Jerry Treiman of the California Geological Survey, Los Angeles.

JPL geophysicist Jay Parker said UAVSAR's precise images are adding realism to NASA's QuakeSim crustal models and forecasts. "Once we have these precise measurements of the changing landscape, we use them to deduce changes in stress that accelerate or delay the next major earthquakes, with the help of structural models and forecasting tools," he said.

For more on UAVSAR, see: http://uavsar.jpl.nasa.gov/ . For more on QuakeSim, see: http://quakesim.jpl.nasa.gov/ .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Mexico quake studies uncover surprises for California." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101220150343.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2010, December 21). Mexico quake studies uncover surprises for California. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101220150343.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Mexico quake studies uncover surprises for California." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101220150343.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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