Satellites reveal ground displacement after Morocco earthquake – Science

The earthquake in Morocco has already claimed more than 2,800 lives and the tracks of destruction caused by the magnitude 6.8 earthquake recorded on the night of September 8, 2023 are still being assessed.. Images shared by various satellite systems help us understand what’s happening on the ground, and now the European Space Agency (ESA) is revealing the information the emergency system provides to teams on the ground.

The earthquake was located 75 km from Marrakech, in the Atlas Mountains, near the geological faults of the European and African tectonic plates, but earthquakes are not common. More than 1,660 buildings are estimated to have collapsed.

ESA has put several Copernicus instruments at the service of research teams. Sentinel-1’s radar is used to analyze how the land changed after the earthquake, which is useful for reconstruction planning and scientific research, and data is combined with the French Pleiades system.

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ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs, Simonetta Celi, said, “TheEarth-orbiting satellites are unique in not only providing panoramic views of affected areas.“.

“The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission uses radar that can see through clouds, so it can also be used to map severe flooding. In the case of the earthquake in Morocco, the value of the mission is to measure how the surface has moved, which is important when the immediate crisis ends and reconstruction begins,” explains Simonetta Celi.

Earlier in the week, data and maps were already released, including seismic images of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa.

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Maxar has also shared images captured by satellites in the region and opened access to the data through its Open Data Program, where it commits to disseminating the information under a Creative Commons license for commercial purposes and has datasets on GitHub.

As in Turkey and Syria in 2022, Satellite images from various sites provide a broad view of the damage caused by the earthquake, and more details will be revealed in the coming days.

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