Documenting earthquake-induced liquefaction using satellite remote sensing image transformations

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Documenting earthquake-induced liquefaction effects is important to validate empirical liquefaction susceptibility models and to enhance our understanding of the liquefaction process. Currently, after an earthquake, field-based mapping of liquefaction can be sporadic and limited due to inaccessibility and lack of resources. Alternatively, researchers have used change detection with remotely sensed pre- and postearthquake satellite images to map earthquake-induced effects. We hypothesize that as liquefaction occurs in saturated granular soils due to an increase in pore pressure, liquefaction-induced surface changes should be associated with increased moisture, and spectral bands/transformations that are sensitive to soil moisture can be used to identify these areas. We verify our hypothesis using change detection with pre- and postearthquake thermal and tasseled cap wetness images derived from available Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) for the 2001 Bhuj earthquake in India. The tasseled cap wetness image is directly related to the soil moisture content, whereas the thermal image is inversely related to it. The change detection of the tasseled cap transform wetness image helped to delineate earthquake-induced liquefaction areas that corroborated well with previous studies. The extent of liquefaction varied within and between geomorphological units, which we believe can be attributed to differences in the soil moisture retention capacity within and between the geomorphological units.

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Environmental and Engineering Geoscience