On March 25, 2002, a series of earthquakes of magnitude up to 6.1 destroyed
several towns in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. This mountainous area
is frequently struck by earthquakes, with roughly five quakes with a magnitude
of 5.0 or greater occuring each year. The Hindu Kush is near the margin of
the colliding Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. This collision causes
the frequent earthquakes, and also shaped the rugged terrain and high mountains.
The quakes relatively shallow depth of 33 km below the Earths
surface contributed to the severe damage in local towns. A nearby earthquake
on March 3, 2002, with a larger magnitude of 7.4 caused much less damage, in part because it occurred at a depth of 256 km.
This image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer
(ASTER), flying aboard NASAs Terra satellite, shows the region where the quakes occurredto the left of center in this scene. The false-color image was acquired on October 2, 2000, and is a combination of near-infrared, red, and green wavelengths.
Image by Robert simmon, based on data from NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS,
and U.S./Japan ASTER
This map shows the region around the earthquake that struck the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010. Blue areas indicate water and brown areas indicate land. Lighter colors indicate higher elevation or shallower depth. Circles indicate earthquake locations, with circle size corresponding to earthquake magnitude. Lines indicate faults.