Predicting the Next Quake
Reported March 2010
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A month after a quake hit Haiti, more aftershocks continue to rattle the country. The 7.0 hit so fast, so violently, there was little anyone could do. Understanding changes in the earth's surface is key. Now a new laser mapping technology is changing the way we see the world.
You need Flash Player 8 or higher to view video content with the ROO Flash Player.
Click here to download and install it.
Two-hundred-thousand dead; 300,000 injured. The quake hit Port-Au-Prince without warning, but now, new technology could help predict the next big natural disaster.
Noah Snyder, Ph.D., a geologist at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., uses light detection and ranging or lidar technology to see changes in the earth.
In one lidar image of Death Valley, you can see a small building destroyed by flooding that would be missing from earlier digital maps. The lidar images reveal more details helping seismologists find hidden fault lines to predict the next earthquake or detecting subtle changes in the earth's surface indicating a potential landslide.
"It can be a life saving technology in that it helps us make predictions about what might happen in the future," Taylor Perron, Ph.D., a geologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explained.
To create a lidar map, a GPS guided airplane shines a laser beam on the earths surface. The beam is reflected back to the plane; slowly if reaches the earth's surface or quickly if is hits a mountain peak.
"It just simply allows us to look at the earth's surface in much more detail then we've ever had," Dr. Snyder said.
This information is used to make a digital topographic map of the earth's surface.
"For instance, here we can't see much of anything, but that's a valley right this is the same valley in the lidar image," Dr. Snyder explained.
The new imaging is improving the studies of the earth, and could one day help to save lives.
Lidar also provides data about the earth's landscaping, allowing people to see through the trees. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the laser, which was first demonstrated in 1960. For more information on LaserFest, go to www.laserfest.org.
The Optical Society of America, the American Physical Society and the American Geophysical Union contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Public Relations Officer
James Riordon, Media Relations
American Physical Society
College Park, MD
Optical Society of America
Washington, DC 20036-1023
American Geophysical Union
Washington, DC 20009-1277
Replacing Eyes, Nose, Ears and Fingers
This Month's TV Reports
Is it real or is it fake? Making body parts so life-like even your mother can’t tell the difference! You won’t want to miss this story! The before shots in this story are shocking, but the end results are amazing!
Lymph Node Transplant after Breast Cancer
One in eight women will be diagnosed with it. Now, a transplant is giving breast cancer survivors pain-free lives after chemo.
Fishy Cure for Hearing Loss: Medicine’s Next Big Thing?
A tiny Zebra Fish could hold the key to giving 30 million people their hearing back.
Smart Doctors Office: Back to the Future
One woman doctor defies the odds and runs her office all by herself. But can she be as effective as a bigger office with more people? She can and she does! How this doctors office of the past, could cut our health care costs in the future.
Workout While you Work
Walk while you work! A new treadmill desk may be the hottest new way to spend your day at the office.
Making a Blockbuster
It takes a lot more than superstar actors to make a Hollywood hit. We’ll share the secret behind the movies.
Basketball: Bias Refs?
Coaches, players and fans who think refs make unfair calls might be right. We’ll break down the numbers and show you how the refs can affect the score.
Tracking Travelers At The Airport
Cell phones signals may be the best way to track travelers at the airport and warn you before you leave the house if the lines are long.
Predicting the Next Quake
New laser mapping technology could predict the next big natural disaster and help to save millions of lives.
Car Parts Made Out of Coconuts?
125 million cars are on the road today. That’s billions of pounds of steel and glass. Now, there’s a new movement to replace some car parts with coconuts.
Can You Hear Me Now?
203 million Americans have one … and almost all of us have to deal with dropped calls. A new super chip may keep you out of the dead zone forever.
There’s a way to have a garden without watering it all the time. It’s called Xeriscaping and it can help you save money, go green and grow flowers all at the same time.