Exploring the feasibility of dynamic full-field earthquake measurements from space
Producing real-time deformation maps of the Earth's surface during an earthquake would enable a leap in the understanding of earthquake mechanics. These measurements would also allow us to quantify the ground shaking in the near field and its decay away from the fault, which is directly linked to the damage level.
Conceptual sketch of the space optical seismometer. A geostationary satellite, instrumented with an optical telescope featuring a high-density spatio-temporal sampling, acquires real-time images during seismic events, which can be analyzed with pattern matching algorithms to infer the full-field time histories of deformation.
Currently, aerial and satellite images taken pre- and post- earthquake can be analyzed with image matching algorithms to determine the co-seismic ground deformations. However, the interpretation of this data is not straightforward due to the inherent complexity of natural faults and deformation fields. Further, current air- and spaceborne measurements do not allow capturing highly transient phenomena as they lack temporal resolution. While theoretical and numerical simulations by our collaborators  indicate that the concept of space optical seismometer should be feasible, it is important to demonstrate the feasibility of the concept with laboratory experiments.
To investigate the feasibility of real-time earthquake imaging from space, and to help interpret complex rupture features detected by the current air- and spaceborne measurements, we have developed a laboratory earthquake setup capable of reproducing displacement and strain maps similar to those obtained in the field, while maintaining enough simplicity so that clear conclusions can be drawn . Learn about our study here.
- Michel R, Ampuero J-P, Avouac J-P, Lapusta N, Leprince S, Redding DC, Somala S (2012) A geostationary optical seismometer, proof of concept. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 51(1):695-703.
- Rubino V, Lapusta N, Rosakis AJ, Leprince S, Avouac JP (2015) Static Laboratory Earthquake Measurements with the Digital Image Correlation Method. Experimental Mechanics, 55(1):77–94.