Satellite measures ‘quake island’.


The “quake island” that rose from the sea off Pakistan this week is pictured clearly in a new satellite image.

It was acquired by the French Pleiades high-resolution Earth-observing system, and has enabled scientists to map the muddy mound’s precise dimensions.

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It is almost circular – 175.7m on the long axis and 160.0m on the short axis, giving a total area of 22,726 sq m.

The island, sited near the town of Gwadar, came up after the 7.7-magnitude tremor in the region.

Scientists say the intense shaking likely disturbed previously stable sediments and gas at the sea floor, which then oozed to the surface rather like a mud volcano.

The feature is not expected to persist. The ocean will erode the soft sediments, like it has with similar quake islands in the past.

The Gwadar mound is reported to be the fourth in the region since 1945, and the third during the last 15 years.

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Pleiades is primarily a French national space project. It comprises two satellites that can resolve features on the ground as small as 50cm across.

The pair were built by Astrium, Europe’s largest space company; the imaging instrument was supplied by Thales Alenia Space (France).

Pleiades has both a civilian and a military role, and a number of European countries (Austria, Belgium, Spain and Sweden) have part-funded the project to get access to the pictures.

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