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7.2 Mexicali quake shifted Earth's crust 31 inches, NASA images show

June 23, 2010 |  5:27 pm


The 7.2 Mexicali, Mexico, earthquake was so powerful that it shifted the Earth's crust 31 inches near Calexico, Calif., according to radar images and data released by NASA on Wednesday.

Eric Fielding, a geophysicist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the quake shifted the crust on the Mexican side of the border even more -- as much as 10 feet, according to research by European and Japanese scientists.

Fielding said that while the numbers sound dramatic, they probably were not noticed by humans immediately after the quake because they occurred in a remote desert area.

The Easter Sunday quake killed two people and collapsed numerous buildings in the Mexicali area. There was more than $90 million in damage in California alone -- mostly in Imperial County.

The images were taken by the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, which is operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

-- Hector Becerra


Map credits:

Figure 1: Overview of the UAVSAR interferogram of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake of April 4, overlaid atop a Google Earth image of the region. Major fault systems are shown by red lines, while recent aftershocks are denoted by yellow, orange and red dots. Credit: NASA/JPL/U.S.Geological Survey/Google

Figure 2: Full-resolution portion of the UAVSAR interferogram where the largest deformation, up to 31 inches, was measured. Credit: NASA/JPL

Figure 3: Detail of the UAVSAR interferogram in the area of the June 14 magnitude 5.7 aftershock, showing major faults and recent aftershocks. Credit: NASA/JPL/U.S. Geological Survey/California Geological Survey/Google