University of Pittsburgh
March 16, 2011

Japan Quake: Pitt Researcher Compiles High-Res Images of Tsunami Damage to Sendai, Japan, Using NASA Satellite

Pitt volcanologist Michael Ramsey, science team member for NASA’s ASTER satellite, is available to discuss the range of destruction around Sendai, the city closest to the March 11 earthquake’s epicenter

PITTSBURGH—High-resolution images captured by a joint NASA-Japanese satellite sensor and compiled by University of Pittsburgh professor Michael Ramsey illustrate the scale of the damage Sendai, Japan, experienced from the tsunami that followed the March 11 earthquake. The quake’s epicenter was off the coast of Sendai. 

The images are available on Pitt’s Web site at ivis.eps.pitt.edu/data/japan/. 

Ramsey, an associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Geology and Planetary Science, processed images acquired March 14 by NASA’s Earth-orbiting Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflectance Radiometer (ASTER) instrument. He compared those data with ASTER images of Sendai from 2007 to show that much of coastal Sendai is now flattened or underwater. Ramsey also produced a land-cover image of northeastern Japan that indicates that more than 30 square miles of coastline was destroyed by the tsunami (affected area in red). 

Ramsey, who is available to comment on the images, is a member of the ASTER science team and specializes in remote sensoring and visualization as applied to volcanoes and other natural disasters. His work with ASTER usually centers on the north Pacific region. 

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3/16/11/tmw/lks

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