Puerto Rico earthquakes: Landscape changed by violent tremors as seen in satellite image
Jan. 14, 2020
HUGE earthquakes across Puerto Rico have left the landscape visible scarred from space, satellite images from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have revealed.
More than 2,000 earthquakes have rocked Puerto Rico since the middle of December, including a huge magnitude-6.6 tremor on January 7. That earthquake killed at least one person and caused at least $110million (£85million) in damages to the US territory. Now images from NASA and the ESA have revealed the landmass of Puerto Rico has been permanently scarred by the constant powerful tremors.
Data from the ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1A satellite found that the ground shifted downwards and to the west by around 5.5 inches.
NASA said on its website: “The scientists found that the greatest displacement from the [satellite’s] flyover area occurred west of the city of Ponce (identified by the green star), not far from the quake’s offshore epicentre.
“They recorded up to 5.5 inches (14 centimetres) of ground change there. The ground appeared to shift downward and slightly to the west.
“The quake epicentre and the cluster of quakes and aftershocks in the region identified by the United States Geological Survey fall just west of the satellite’s Jan. 9 track.
“Because of this, scientists also plan to analyse data from Sentinel-1A’s forthcoming Jan. 14 flyover, which will include western Puerto Rico.”
Puerto Rico, a popular tourist destination, lies between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates leaving it vulnerable to earthquakes.
The USGS said: “When there are more earthquakes, the chance of a large earthquake is greater which means that the chance of damage is greater.”
Just a day prior to the magnitude-6.6 tremor, the island was struck by a mag-5.8 earthquake followed by several aftershocks.
That earthquake caused damage to buildings, landslides and power cuts and destroying the popular tourist rock formation Punta Ventana when it hit.
Punta Ventana - a stone arch near the southern town of Guayanilla - was toppled by the force of the earthquake.
The rock formation, which collapsed into the Caribbean, was an iconic feature of Puerto Rico and was shaped like a round stone window and provided a beautiful vista of the ocean in Guayanilla.
Previously, visitors would take photos throughout the hole and even walk out along the top of the rock formation.
“Playa Ventana has collapsed. Today our icon rests in everyone’s memory,” Glidden López, a press officer for Guayanilla council, wrote in a Facebook post.
A local told the Miami Herald that Punta Ventana was “one of the biggest tourism draws of Guayanilla”.
The US territory had suffered major power cuts as a result of the series of tremors, but officials have stated power has been restored to the majority of the island.