Breaking Ground

by Celine Gordon & Jeng Hann Chong 

Wood & earth pigment watercolor, 2023

In this art piece, we present our scientist’s research on Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar where more than hundreds of millions of people reside in this earthquake-prone area. Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) is a remote sensing technique that uses satellite images to detect changes in the Earth's surface. We can track ground movement using satellite images taken over multiple years and show how much ground is moving per year. Overall, this research will improve our understanding of earthquake potential in this region and the potential impacts.

This interactive art piece demonstrates how InSAR works using wood sculptural elements and earth pigment watercolor painting. The two sliding wood panels abstractly represent satellite images taken at different times with dot patterns indicating movement on the Earth’s surface. As you slide the panels together, the dot patterns align to show the average of the two images and point to the areas most prone to earthquakes. These panels overlay a watercolor painting of the research area created from earth pigment paints which were handmade from rocks and minerals foraged here in New Mexico. Through using these earth pigment paints, our goal is to connect our local geology with these broader geological changes affecting earthquake-prone parts of the world.

We hope to instill earthquake awareness in communities everywhere so that we can be better prepared for an earthquake.