… (that is about 4 feet 7 inches) say scientists after their initial analysis. Reported by Tech Insider on September 21, 2015.


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After a massive 8.3 earthquake rocked Chile’s northern coast on September 16, scientists immediately began analyzing satellite images taken before and after the temblor to get a good idea of how far the ground moved.

This technique — called Synthetic Radar Aperture Interferometry (InSAR) — combines before and after satellite images into colorful maps — called interferograms.

Chile Earthquake on the Radar
Satellite analysis of ground movement following the September 16, 2015 Chile earthquake shows a 140-cm ground displacement.

The rainbow-colored fringes, which can be similarly interpreted as the elevation contours on a map, help scientists approximate how far the ground moved on a fault following an earthquake. The European Space Union launched the spacecraft that took these images, called Sentinel-1, in the spring of 2014. It orbits about 430 miles above Earth and uses radar to sense ground movements.

After an initial analysis, scientists were able to calculate that the ground moved about 140 cm away from the satellite in the region falling between the quake’s epicenter — about 10 miles off the coast of Chile — and the edges of the affected area, Petar Marinkovic, a scientist who computes interferograms for PPO.labs in the Netherlands, told Tech Insider in an email.


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