Earthquakes

Overview

About 50 earthquakes occur each day around the world. Although most of these do not have a noticeable effect on life and work, large-magnitude earthquakes occurring near cities and towns can cause catastrophic devastation through destruction of buildings and infrastructure. Earthquakes occurring near coastlines or under oceans also have the ability of generating tsunamis with waves over 100 feet high that can sweep away buildings, causing extensive damage in coastal regions. Immediately following an earthquake, aftershocks, or subsequent earthquakes, may continue for weeks, causing additional damage and hampering recovery. Since 2015, over 10,000 people around the world have died from earthquakes and tsunamis.

An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the perceptible shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves.

Examples of catastrophic damage caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, and earthquake-triggered landslides.

Examples of catastrophic damage caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, and earthquake-triggered landslides:

(a)    Damage suffered in Amatrice, Italy, from a M6.2 earthquake on August 24, 2016. Almost 300 people were killed as a result of this Central Italy earthquake (image credit, New York Times).

(b)    Tsunami resulting from the March-2011 Tohoku M9.1 undersea earthquake in Japan (image credit, ABC).

(c)    Landslide triggered as a result of the April-2015 Gorkha M7.6 earthquake in Nepal (image credit, Science).

To help assess the event and provide situational awareness due to these natural occurrences, NASA utilizes expertise in sensor networks and remote sensing. These data products can support search and rescue efforts and determine disaster impact to aid stakeholder efforts in emergency response and recovery.

NASA research tools utilized for disaster response.

One example of the NASA Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) capabilities is shown below. ARIA relies mainly on satellite radar datasets collected primarily using Copernicus Sentinel 1-A processed by ESA and ALOS-2 SAR instruments. Data products derived from satellite radar datasets are not impacted by cloud cover and can be acquired during day or night. Maps are available between within a day to several days after the earthquake, depending on the availability of earliest post-earthquake radar observations.

Examples of damage proxy maps (DPMs) generated following the Central Italy M6.2 earthquake on August 24, 2016

Examples of damage proxy maps (DPMs) generated following the Central Italy M6.2 earthquake on August 24, 2016. DPMs generated by the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) project and the Copernicus team. ARIA DPMs utilize satellite data to detect locations where an earthquake has caused significant damage (source: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA21091).

Besides these disaster response and recovery tools, NASA can also apply capabilities of its airborne instruments in order to assess the impacts of catastrophic events. These instruments include optical (AVIRIS, AVIRIS-NG), radar (UAVSAR), and LiDAR (ASO) capabilities that can be deployed to image affected areas. An example of UAVSAR relevance to earthquake events is shown below where ground movement is quantified following an initial earthquake.

UAVSAR data following the 2010 Mexicali earthquake.

UAVSAR data following the 2010 Mexicali earthquake.

Source: https://uavsar.jpl.nasa.gov/images/what-is-uavsar/Slide22.jpg

Latest Updates

October 7, 2018
Palu Energy Shift
  Fig. 1: Tele-seismic data used in real-event calculation, black denotes observations and red means synthetic values. Fig. 2: Two tsunami source energies were derived: Potential Energy (PE) due to seafloor uplift and Kinetic Energy (KE) due to horizontal seafloor displacement....
September 10, 2018
ARIA Damage Proxy Map of the Hokkaido, Japan earthquake comparing data from before (August 23, 2018) and after (September 6, 2018) the earthquake. 
ARIA Damage Proxy Map of the Hokkaido, Japan earthquake comparing data from before (August 23, 2018) and after (September 6, 2018) the earthquake.  The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Caltech created a Damage Proxy Map (DPM) depicting areas in the southwestern part of Hokkaido, Japan, that are likely damaged (shown in red and yellow pixels) as a result of the earthquake on...
October 3, 2018
MODIS near Real-Time Data to Detect Flooding in Indonesia
This map was created from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Near Real-Time Global (NRT) Flood Mapping product.  This image shows the 3-day composite flood (new/anomalous) water in red on top of the surface (known/existing) water in yellow. According to several news media outlets, many coastal buildings and streets were already flooded on September 28, 2018, indicating that an initial wave had already hit the coast in Palu, Indonesia.  (Source: The New York Times,...
October 3, 2018
Landsat 8 Image in Indonesia
  Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the United States Geological Survey and NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite captured a natural-color image of Palu, Indonesia on October 2, 2018. The second image shows the same area before the earthquake and tsunami. The false...
October 4, 2018
ARIA DPM Update
The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech in Pasadena, CA created a Damage Proxy Map (DPM) version 0.7 depicting areas in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, including the city of Palu that are damaged. The damaged areas are depicted as red and yellow pixels. Damage occurred as a result of the magnitude 7.5 earthquake on September 28, 2018. The map is derived from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images from the...
October 11, 2018
NASA's ARIA Along-Track Deformation Map
NASA's ARIA Along-Track Deformation Map Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis project (ARIA), a collaboration between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Caltech, also in Pasadena, using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 (ALOS-2) PALSAR-2, generated maps of the deformation of Earth’s surface caused by the Sept. 28, 2018 magnitude 7.5 earthquake...
October 16, 2018
ARIA Cross-Track Interferogram, Sulawesi Earthquake 
ARIA Cross-Track Interferogram, Sulawesi Earthquake    The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech in Pasadena, CA created this false-color map showing deformation in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, including the city of Palu, as a result of the Magnitude 7.5 earthquake on September 28, 2018. The map is derived from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images from the ALOS-2 satellite, operated by Japan Aerospace...
August 19, 2018
ARIA Damage Proxy Map (DPM) comparing JAXA ALOS-2 SAR data from May 13, 2018  vs. August 19, 2018.
ARIA Damage Proxy Map (DPM) comparing JAXA ALOS-2 SAR data from May 13, 2018  vs. August 19, 2018. The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Caltech, also in Pasadena, created this Damage Proxy Map (DPM) depicting areas in the northeastern part of Lombok Island, Indonesia, that are likely damaged (shown by red and yellow pixels) as a result of the major earthquake sequence (including the...
October 5, 2016
NASA-Produced Maps Help Gauge Italy Earthquake Damage
NASA/JPL-Caltech-produced maps of damage in and around Amatrice, Italy, from the Aug. 2016, quake, based on ground surface changes detected by Italian and Japanese radar satellites. The color variations from yellow to red indicate increasingly more significant ground surface change. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA/ASI/European Union - Joint Research Centre/Google Earth A NASA-funded program provided valuable information for responders and groups supporting the recovery efforts for the Aug...
August 7, 2018
Satellite-Derived Map of Ground Deformation from Earthquake beneath Lombok, Indonesia
Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis project (ARIA), a collaboration between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Caltech, also in Pasadena, using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from the European Union’s Copernicus Sentinel-1A and -1B satellites, operated by the European Space Agency, generated a map of the deformation of Earth’s surface caused by the Aug. 5, 2018 magnitude 6.9 earthquake under Lombok island, Indonesia. The deformation map is produced from automated interferometric processing of the SAR...
February 17, 2018
Motion towards satellite (up and west) in radar line-of-sight direction.
Interferogram from modified Copernicus Sentinel-1 SAR data acquired 2018/02/17 and 02/05 shows earthquake fault slip on subduction megathrust beneath coast caused up to 40 cm of uplift of the ground surface. Interferometric SAR (InSAR) analysis was automatically performed by Caltech-JPL ARIA data system. Main image shows motion towards satellite (up and west) in radar line-of-sight direction. Additional images show motion contoured with 9 cm (image 2) and 2.8 cm (image 3) color contours, also known as fringes, displayed in Google Earth. Symbols show preliminary USGS and Mexican seismic...
August 7, 2018
Fig. 2: Both GNSS and teleseismic waves (black) are used to model (red) the earthquake.
Earthquake epicenter (red star) and teleseismic stations (black triangles). Fig. 2: Both GNSS and teleseismic waves (black) are used to model (red) the earthquake....
February 17, 2018
SARs image of the Oaxaca Mexico Earthquake.
Rewrapped Sentinel-1 Interferogram for the M7.2 Pinotepa de Don Luis, Mexico earthquake from Feb 16, 2018.  Ascending Sentinel-1 SAR interferogram rewrapped to 10cm color contours of line-of-sight surface deformation. The frame was processed automatically by the UAF SARVIEWS processing service (http://sarviews-hazards.alaska.edu/). Sentinel-1 data from 02/05/18 and 02/17/18 was used. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2018]. Data accessed through the Alaska Satellite Facility....
September 21, 2017
Sentinel-1 radar map for September 2017 Raboso-Puebla Earthquake in Mexico indicates relatively small permanent ground motions
NASA and its partners are contributing important observations and expertise to the ongoing response to the September 19, 2017, magnitude 7.1 Puebla earthquake in Mexico. This earthquake has caused widespread building damage and triggered landslides throughout the region, including Mexico City. Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis project (ARIA), a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the...
September 21, 2017
Mexico City Damage Proxy Map
NASA’s ARIA Damage Proxy Map of the M7.1 Raboso, Mexico, earthquake was created from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite SAR data and is available to download from: http://aria-share.jpl.nasa.gov/events/20170919-M7.1_Raboso_Mexico_EQ/DPM The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Caltech, also in Pasadena,...
September 13, 2017
ARIA Damage Proxy Map v0.5
The Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, created this Damage Proxy Map (DPM) depicting areas of Southern Mexico that are likely damaged as a result of the M8.1 September 7, 2017 (near midnight local time, early morning on 8th UTC) Chiapas earthquake, shown by red and yellow pixels. The map is derived from synthetic...
September 14, 2017
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Copernicus
NASA and its partners are contributing important observations and expertise to the ongoing response to the September 7, 2017 (local time), magnitude 8.1 Oaxaca-Chiapas earthquake in Mexico. This earthquake was the strongest over a century for Mexico. It has caused a significant humanitarian crisis with widespread building damage and triggered landslides throughout the region. Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis project (ARIA), a...
September 14, 2017
Landslide maps for the 2017 Mexico Earthquake
The global Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness (LHASA) model is developed to provide situational awareness of landslide hazards for a wide range of users. Precipitation is a common trigger of landslides. The GPMIntegrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) data shows recent precipitation, updated every thirty minutes. A LHASA landslide “nowcast” is created by comparing GPM data from the last seven days to the long-term precipitation record provided...
August 26, 2016
Radar image of Amatrice Italy Earthquake
NASA and its partners are contributing observations and expertise to the ongoing response to the Aug. 23, 2016, magnitude 6.2 Amatrice earthquake in central Italy caused widespread building damage to several towns throughout the region. This earthquake was the strongest in that area since the 2009 earthquake that destroyed the city of L'Aquila. Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis project (ARIA), a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,...
April 29, 2015
SPoRT Satellite Imagery of Post Earthquake in Nepal Districts
Image shows a decrease in emitted light over Nepal in areas affected by the earthquake on April 25 as detected by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, VIIRS, “Day-Night Band” sensor aboard the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership satellite, derived from a comparison of pre-earthquake (22 April 2015) and post-earthquake (26 April 2015) imagery.  Input satellite data were obtained in collaboration with the NASA Suomi NPP Science Investigator-Led...

Pages