Published on March 21st, 2011 | by Joshua S Hill
Earthquake and Tsunami from Space
NASA has been providing a lot of photos and satellite imagery of Japan over the past week, focusing on the devastation that has affected the region surrounding the Sendai region after the magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit. Below are three more images that each show a different picture of the impact the earthquake and tsunami had on the country.
One of the hardest hit cities was Rikuzentakata, a city of approximately 8,000 people, which lost 75 percent of its homes, prompting The Mainichi Daily News to declare that “Rikuzentakata has been erased.” Kyodo News reported on March 17 that 4,255 deaths, while 8,194 people remained missing.
Nevertheless, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) onboard NASA’s Terra satellite observed massive changes to Rikuzentakata in these before and after images, the first one taken in March of 2007 and the second image taken the 14th of this year.
The coastline has been entirely reshaped, with well-vegetated land being completely destroyed and flood water still sitting on agricultural fields, as well as a massive peach-coloured stretch of debris found both floating offshore as well as well inland. If you click on the full satellite image for the second photo you’ll also see what looks like debris streams well off the Japanese coast.
This image shows the ground motion and shaking intensity from the earthquake at dozens of locations across Japan, and if you click on the image you’ll see the locations across the entire country as well. Each circle represents an estimate of shaking as based on data from the USGS and regional seismic networks.
The last image shows a section of Japan’s coast along Sendai Bay, with some areas still covered by flood waters from the tsunami. Further inland, though, on the outskirts of the Sendai suburbs, snow has fallen and covered much of the region.
Sadly, the snow has caused icy highways which are hampering the search for survivors of the earthquake and tsunami, and there does not look to be any relief in sight, with Japan’s Meteorological Agency forecasting cold temperatures along with rain or snow for much of the country over the following week.