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Posted on February 3rd, 2015

Our Changing Landscape – 2010 Chilean Earthquake

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 5 billion square kilometers of data. This month, we look at a claim surrounding the 2010 Chilean earthquake.

This photo was posted on the website (see slide 3) and was the inspiration of this article. You can see a new section of beach that is purported to have been created in the 2010 Chilean earthquake.

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

The 2010 Chilean Earthquake

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Punta Lavapié, Chile on October 13, 2009 and November 12, 2010. The tip of the land mass in this animation should be the same location shown in the photo that accompanies this article. While there is clearly new land exposed in the 2010 RapidEye imagery, it is impossible to say if this is new land or just land that is exposed daily by lower tides. (Images Courtesy: RapidEye)

On February 27, 2010 at 3:34 AM, a powerful magnitude 8.8 earthquake started shaking the ground off the coast of Chile’s Maule Region. The epicenter of the earthquake was some 35 kilometers (km) below the Pacific Ocean and 105 km north-east of the country’s second largest city, Concepción. The major earthquake, combined with the 12 hours of tsunami waves it generated and 76 aftershocks, killed 521 people and left 56 missing. There were 81,444 homes and housing structures destroyed, 108,914 significantly damaged and an additional 179,693 with minor damage. The toll on Chile’s infrastructure was significant as well with 73 hospitals, 221 bridges and 3,049 schools for 1.25 million students damaged or destroyed. In all, more than 900 communities were impacted, or an estimated 12.8 million people, and there were approximately $30 billion in economic losses – which is about 17% of Chile’s annual GDP.

While all of these figures are shocking, they are not the focus of this Our Changing Landscape. Rather, we turn our attention to a small piece of marine bed claimed to be up raised during the 2010 Chilean earthquake as reported on Slide 3 of this piece. The area is claimed to be Punta Lavapié which is located on the northern most tip of Arauco Peninsula. Both of these are locations that are easy to find in Google Earth so admittedly this is as much a test of the crowd-sourced accuracy of the labels in Google Earth as it is of the claim made on the site referenced above. Without further ado, let’s check the visual record as recorded by the 5-meter satellite, RapidEye, over what appears to be the Arauco Peninsula in these before and after images.

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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