14 January 2010

Google Earth imagery of the Haiti Earthquake

Posted by Dave Petley

With admirable speed Google have released two high quality images of the earthquake affected areas:


At the moment the imagery is just for the Carrefour and Port-au-Prince areas (i.e. not the rural upland areas), but it contains the first good news to emerge from the area. This is that on this imagery at least the number of landslides appears to be small and, perhaps most interestingly, there are few signs of slope failures under the shanty towns on the edge of the urban areas, which we feared could be the cause of substantial loss of life.

There are some interesting other aspects of the damage, not least a large oil spill leak into the sea:

The main roads appear to be mostly open.

If landslides have occurred (and this would be the norm for an earthquake of this size) then they are most likely to be in the hills outside the imagery area. However, it could be that the slopes are so denuded and stripped, and prone to hurricane rainfall so frequently, that the material that would normally be available for sliding has already been stripped off.