December 03, 2013
ESA’s GOCE satellite has revealed that the devastating Japanese earthquake of 2011 left its mark in Earth’s gravity – yet another example of this extraordinary mission surpassing its original scope.
GOCE mapped Earth’s gravity with unrivalled precision for over four years, but nobody really expected the data to show changes over time.
Now, careful analysis shows the effects of the 9.0 earthquake that struck east of Japan’s Honshu Island on 11 March 2011 are clearly visible in GOCE’s gravity data.
Large earthquakes not only deform Earth’s crust, but can also cause tiny changes in local gravity.
The strength of gravity varies from place to place on our planet’s surface and it was GOCE’s task to map these variations very precisely.
image credit: DGFI/TU Delft