Satellite recorded Japan quake

2013-03-11 10:51
(File photo, AP)

(File photo, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - A European Space Agency satellite circling Earth was able to detect the massive 2011 earthquake that ravaged Japan, killing nearly 16 000 people and causing massive destruction, a new study said on Sunday.

"The atmospheric infrasounds following the great Tohoku earthquake... induced variations of air density and vertical acceleration of the Goce platform," said a report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The Gravity Ocean Circulation Explorer (Goce) is the European Space Agency super-sensitive satellite that acts like an orbital seismologist.

Scientists argue that earthquakes not only create seismic waves that travel through Earth's interior, but large tremors also cause the surface of the planet to vibrate like a drum. This produces sound waves that travel upward through the atmosphere.

Goce is designed to capture and register these signals.

Shock waves

According to the report, the magnitude 9.0 tremor on 11 March 2011 sent shock waves through the atmosphere that was picked up by the satellite.

"These signals were detected at two positions along the Goce orbit corresponding to a crossing and a doubling of the infrasonic wave front created by seismic surface waves," the study said.

It noted that perturbations up to 11% of air density and a vertical acceleration of air waves were observed following the quake.

"These perturbations were due to acoustic waves creating vertical velocities up to 130 metres per second," the report pointed out.

The satellite first recorded the signal as it passed over the Pacific Ocean about 30 minutes after the quake and then again 25 minutes later as it moved across Europe.

"Seismologists are particularly excited by this discovery because they were virtually the only Earth scientists without a space-based instrument directly comparable to those deployed on the ground," said Raphael Garcia from the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in France.

"With this new tool, they can start to look up into space to understand what is going on under their feet."
Read more on:    japan  |  earthquakes  |  japan earthquake

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.