NASA GeoGateway Team Uses Drones to Map in 3D the 2019 California Earthquakes Ruptures

July 26, 2019

NASA GeoGateway Team Uses Drones to Map in 3D the 2019 California Earthquakes Ruptures

Andrea Donnellan flies a Parrot Anafi with a 21 megapixel camera over the M6.4 rupture. Credit: NASA GeoGateway Team

NASA research scientist Andrea Donnellan flies a Parrot Anafi with a 21 megapixel camera over the site of a rupture from the magnitude 6.4 Ridgecrest earthquake on July 4, 2019. Credit: NASA GeoGateway Team 

On July 4 and 5 near the city of Ridgecrest in Southern California two large-magnitude earthquakes struck, generating surface ruptures and damaging homes and businesses. NASA's GeoGateway team, led by research scientist Andrea Donnellan, conducted a series of drone flights to map in 3D the post-earthquakes changes in topography and terrain. The data was requested by  the California Earthquake Clearninghouse and the Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) Association, with flight locations supplied by Christine Goulet, Executive Director for Applied Science at the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

This image shows a 3D point cloud captured by the drone and processed by Pix4D and CLoud Compare CC Viewer. .

This image shows a 3D point cloud captured by the drone, processed by Pix4D and viewed in Cloud Compare CC Viewer. The fault rupture can be seen trending from lower right to upper left in the photo. The upper right, eastern side of the rupture is uplifted about 50 cm and moved to the southeast about 50 cm. The road has been offset. Cars and the orange drone landing pad can be seen in the image. Credit: NASA GeoGateway Team

After being processed by Pix4D software the 3D drone data will be posted to the GeoGateway Portal. GeoGateway is a web-enabled map-based system for analysis, modeling, and response of geodetic imaging products for studying earthquakes and crustal deformation. The system provides a data product search and analysis gateway for scientific discovery, field use, and disaster response.

These products will help identify fault ruptures and cracks as well as displacement. The sites will be re-measured over time to characterize the postseismic deformation patterns at these targeted locations. The products were also included in the report on the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence

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