Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Implementing JPL Technologies for Improving Earthquake Resiliency in California

The project consists of two parts

  1. A) The use of JPL air and space borne radar technologies to assess ground deformation and damage for use in planning recovery activities.
  2. B) Methane detection and mapping from aircraft after an earthquake.

The project was selected based on a proposal developed by JPL for the SSC that was generated from a JPL/SSC study completed in 2016.  The findings and recommendations from this report entitled Select Technologies and Capabilities to Improve Earthquake Resiliency in California recommended that the SSC support the use of radar, Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) infrared and optical imaging from aircraft and/or spacecraft to determine the disposition of faults as well as ground deformation and damage to buildings and infrastructure after earthquakes.  These technologies had been used in a limited capacity mainly for research since 2009.  The SSC is attempting to see which technologies would be useful in determining losses after a earthquakes as well as helping speed recovery with products that would be supplied to decision makers and other emergency management personnel.

The second part of the project makes use of an airborne mounted methane detection and mapping system that has been used to look for both man made and naturally occurring methane sources in California.  This system was built by JPL and used in various studies by the California Energy Commission as well as the California Air Resources Board.  Limited use of this technology on aircraft has been done in California using JPL instruments, software and personnel.  The information on existing methane sources is being gathered to develop a base line of methane emission sources and their locations throughout the State.  The use of the system, software and personnel in a post-earthquake environment is not an activity sponsored by either the California Energy Commission or the California Air Resources Board. The purpose of this project is to identify stakeholders interested in obtaining post-earthquake methane concentrations in the area affected by a damaging earthquake for use by emergency responders and planners in mitigating fires related to earthquakes and helping locate leaks in rural areas.