New Zealand Quake Region
A powerful magnitude 6.3 earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand (seen above), on Feb. 22, 2011. The quake - the worst natural disaster to hit New Zealand in 80 years - was centered in Lyttelton, just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) southeast of Christchurch, at a shallow depth of just 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). In the image above, Lyttelton is on the other side of the snow-covered mountains, close to the water. As of Feb. 25, 2011, the Associated Press reported 113 deaths as a result of the earthquake. The quake is considered to be part of the aftershock sequence of the much larger magnitude 7.0 earthquake of Sept. 4, 2010, which was centered 45 kilometers (30 miles) west of Christchurch.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Feb. 22 quake involved faulting at the eastern edge of the aftershock zone from the Sept. 2010 event. The earthquake is broadly associated with deformation occurring at the boundary of the Pacific and Australia tectonic plates.
A day after the Feb. 22 earthquake, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft took this image. The imaging was done at the request of the International Charter, Space and Major Disasters, which provides emergency satellite data to federal agencies in disaster-stricken regions.
Image credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team