KU geologists examining earthquake in Mexico

Two University of Kansas geologists are taking part in an on-site study of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Baja California on April 4.

Assistant professor Michael Taylor and graduate student A.J. Herrs will use light detection and ranging technology to create a map of the quake's fault scarp, which is accurate down to a centimeter.

Fault scarp is the slope or steep bank created on the land surface when a fault moves and causes an earthquake. The technology, or LiDAR, uses laser pulses to measure the properties of an area. It's much like radar but uses shorter wavelengths to create its image.

"This method can accurately determine the amount of motion during an earthquake and accurately follow any ongoing deformation of the surface," said J. Douglas Walker, a KU geology professor who is handling logistics for the school's researchers. "That tells us lot about how the fault is behaving."

Taylor and Herrs are part of a National Science Foundation Rapid Response team. They are examining a quake that struck near Mexicali, Mexico, killing two and injuring 233.