The 2010 Haiti earthquake revisited: An acoustic intensity map from remote atmospheric infrasound observations

Shahar Shani-Kadmiel*, Gil Averbuch, Pieter Smets, Jelle Assink, Läslo Evers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


In the days following the January 12, 2010 Mw 7 Haiti earthquake the shaking intensity near the epicenter was overestimated and the spatial extent of the potentially damaging shaking was underestimated. This was due to the lack of seismometers in the near-source region at the time of the earthquake. Besides seismic waves, earthquakes generate infrasound, i.e., inaudible acoustic waves in the atmosphere. Here we show that infrasound signals, detected at distant ground-based stations, can be used to generate a map of the acoustic intensity, which is proportional to the shaking intensity. This is demonstrated with infrasound from the 2010 Haiti earthquake detected in Bermuda, over 1700 km away. Wavefront parameters are retrieved in a beamforming process and are backprojected to map the measured acoustic intensity to the source region. The backprojection process accounts for horizontal advection effects due to winds and inherent uncertainties with regard to the time of detection and the back azimuth resolution. Furthermore, we resolve the ground motion polarity in the epicentral region and use synthetics generated by an extended infrasound source model to support this result. Infrasound measurements are conducted globally for the verification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and although the network was designed to provide global coverage for nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, it is shown in this paper that there is also global coverage for the estimation of acoustic shaking intensity. In this study, we lay the groundwork that can potentially make infrasound-based ShakeMaps a useful tool alongside conventional ShakeMaps and a valuable tool for earthquake disaster mitigation in sparsely monitored regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116795
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • beamforming
  • infrasound
  • numerical modeling
  • seismo-acoustics
  • ShakeMap


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