NASA uses airborne radar to study earthquakes - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

NASA uses airborne radar to study earthquakes

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A swarm of California earthquakes earlier this year triggered more than seismographs.

It also triggered a swarm of quake research focusing on the giant San Andreas fault.

NASA has equipped a Gulfstream jet with a type of radar called UA-V-Sar and by making a series of passes over an area, the radar can detect subtle movements of the ground in 3D, including movement in faults below ground and on a far broader scale than standard ground gauges.

"This blankets the region and gives us a pattern of strain across Southland," explains geophysicist Andrea Donnellan.

The San Fernando Valley was radar-mapped just two months before the 1994 Northridge quake, but the satellite was not available to do a followup for two more years.

Now with NASA's commitment, quake scientists can count on regular radar measurements of the Los Angeles area and the San Andreas fault.

Donnellan says the information becomes more valuable when combined with ground measured seismic patterns.

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