Nearly 10 years after Los Angeles was shaken by the devastating, magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake, scientists at NASA and other institutions say maturing space-based technologies, new ground-based techniques and more complex computer models are rapidly advancing our understanding of earthquakes and earthquake processes.
Dr. Andrea Donnellan, a geophysicist at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., says the past decade has seen substantial progress in space-based earthquake research. "Weve confirmed through space observation the Earths surface is constantly moving, periodically resulting in earthquakes, and we can measure both the seismically quiet motions before and after earthquakes, as well as the earthquakes themselves," she explains. "These technologies are allowing us to pursue lines of data and research we didnt know existed only a few years ago."
Two months before the Northridge earthquake, Donnellan and university colleagues published a paper in the journal Nature on ground deformation north of Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. Six years of Global Positioning System (GPS) data showed the areas faults were active and building up strain, and indicated the size and style of a potential earthquake there. Following the earthquake, the data made it possible to rapidly determine where the fault ruptured and to measure how the earthquake had deformed the Earths surface.
David E. Steitz | GSFC
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