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NASA and its partners are contributing important observations and expertise to the ongoing response to the April 25, 2015, magnitude 7.8 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal. The quake was the strongest to occur in that area since the 1934 Nepal-Bihar magnitude 8.0 event and caused significant regional damage and a humanitarian crisis.

Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis project (ARIA), a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, analyzed interferometric synthetic aperture radar images from the PALSAR-2 instrument on the ALOS-2 satellite operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to calculate a map of the deformation of Earth’s surface caused by the quake. This false-color map shows the amount of permanent surface movement caused almost entirely by the earthquake, as viewed by the satellite, during a 70-day interval between two ALOS-2 images, acquired February 21 and May 2, 2015.

In the map, surface displacements are seen as color contours (or "fringes"), where each color cycle represents 4.7 inches (11.9 centimeters) of surface motion. The contours show the land around Kathmandu has moved toward the satellite by up to 4.6 feet (1.4 meter), or 5.2 feet (1.6 meters) if we assume purely vertical motion. Areas without the color contours have snow or heavy vegetation that affects the radar measurements. Scientists use these maps to build detailed models of the fault and associated land movements to better understand the impact on future earthquake activity. The PALSAR-2 data were provided by JAXA through the Committee on Earth Observation Satellite (CEOS) in support of the response effort. The background image is from Google Earth.

The map created from these data can be viewed at: .

This interferogram display may be downloaded as a .kmz file in Google Earth at: .

For more information about ARIA, visit: .


Image of map of deformation of earth's surface


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