Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/nhess-2017-30
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
27 Jan 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Coseismic displacements of the 14 November 2016 Mw7.8 Kaikoura, New Zealand, earthquake using an optical cubesat constellation
Andreas Kääb1, Bas Altena1, and Joseph Mascaro2 1Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, 0316, Norway
2Planet, San Francisco, postal code 94103, USA
Abstract. Satellite measurements of coseismic displacements are typically based on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) interferometry or amplitude tracking, or based on optical data such as from Landsat, Sentinel-2, SPOT, ASTER, very-high resolution satellites, or airphotos. Here, we evaluate a new class of optical satellite images for this purpose – data from cubesats. More specific, we investigate the PlanetScope cubesat constellation for horizontal surface displacements by the 14 November 2016 Mw7.8 Kaikoura, New Zealand, earthquake. Single PlanetScope scenes are 2–4 m resolution visible and near-infrared frame images of approximately 20–30 km × 9–15 km in size, acquired in continuous sequence along an orbit of approximately 375–475 km height. From single scenes or mosaics from before and after the earthquake we observe surface displacements of up to almost 10 m and estimate a matching accuracy from PlanetScope data of up to ±0.2 pixels (~ ±0.6 m). This accuracy, the daily revisit anticipated for the PlanetScope constellation for the entire land surface of Earth, and a number of other features, together offer new possibilities for investigating coseismic and other Earth surface displacements and managing related hazards and disasters, and complement existing SAR and optical methods. For comparison and for a better regional overview we also match the coseismic displacements by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake using Landsat8 and Sentinel-2 data.

Citation: Kääb, A., Altena, B., and Mascaro, J.: Coseismic displacements of the 14 November 2016 Mw7.8 Kaikoura, New Zealand, earthquake using an optical cubesat constellation, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/nhess-2017-30, in review, 2017.
Andreas Kääb et al.
Andreas Kääb et al.
Andreas Kääb et al.

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Short summary
We evaluate for the first time a new class of optical satellite images for measuring Earth surface displacements due to earthquakes – images from cubesats. The PlanetScope cubesats used in this study are 10 cm × 10 cm × 30 cm small and standardized satellites. Currently, around 60 of these cubesats orbit around Earth, but the final constellation will consist of about 120 of them that provide daily 2–4 m resolution images of the entire land surface of the Earth.
We evaluate for the first time a new class of optical satellite images for measuring Earth...
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