NASA developed the Black Marble, a daily calibrated, corrected, and validated product suite, making nightlight data can be used effectively for scientific observations. Black Marble is playing a vital role in research on light pollution, illegal fishing, fires, disaster impacts and recovery, and human settlements and associated energy infrastructures.

On 7 January 2020, Puerto Ricos's southwest coast was damaged by an earthquake of magnitude 6.4. Multiple large magnitude aftershocks, resulting in 120 landslides, were recorded for the next couple of days throughout the island.

The earthquakes resulted in 10 casualties, and approximately 3,000 homes destroyed or damaged, with a total economic impact of around US $3.1 billion. During the earthquakes, Puerto Rico also suffered extensive damage to its electric grid due to collapsed buildings and structures.

NASA’s Black Marble product suite was used to assess the impacts of the earthquake on the electrical grid through power outage maps (see Figures below).  

The first map shows the percentage reduction in outdoor illumination on 8 January (immediately after the 6.4 magnitude earthquake on 7 January).


January 9 and 10th maps show some recovery, particularly in the densely populated areas of San Juan, Ponce, and Arecibo.

“To respond to power outage events and to mitigate their cascading social and economic costs, we need to produce and improve access to Earth Observations about who has lost access to electricity, and for how long. NASA and USRA have taken a major first step by releasing the entire Black Marble time series record free-of-charge, but this is just the beginning.”


Miguel Román, Director, Earth from Space Institute/USRA


 © 2020 Group on Earth Observations. Proudly created by SparkPlug Designs

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