In response to a request for information regarding the impact of an earthquake affecting Los Angeles (LA), California (CA), McKenzie Intelligence Services (MIS) selected and geospatially referenced key infrastructure for the wider conurbation of LA. This brief seeks to detail key infrastructure; produce pre-catastrophic event assessments; highlight known risk from secondary events such as tsunamis’ and landslides and provide information, recommendations and impact statements via an online interactive geospatial portal.
The USA’s second most populous city conurbation to New York, the wider LA city basin consists of some 88 cities and numerous counties and districts. Flanked by the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, the Santa Monica Mountains to the east and undulating land to the south, the LA basin covers an area some 45 miles (N-S) by 30 miles (E-W) extending to the Pacific Ocean. The LA basin sits atop of the leading edge of the Pacific Plate, where it abuts some 50 miles east against the North American Plate. This transformation fault is well known as the San Andreas Fault.
Introduction to MIS_P with Stuart Ray CTO IMAGERY
Scattergood Thermal Power Station
Hyperion Water Treatment Facility
Los Angeles County (LAC) and University of Southern California (USC) Hospital
Multi-Freeway Junction (Routes 5, 10, 60 and 101)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Port of Long Beach (POLB)
US Bank Tower
Down Town LA
The details shown will be tasked, analysed & collated from handheld, drone and satellite imagery data. MIS maintains a current register of Drone providers on its areas of Intelligence Interest. Each report will be written with imagery and built upon into the Long Look reports as the situation matures. Turn around time will be as quickly as possible via our 24hr manned Bevis Marks, London operations room.
In the wake of a sizeable event, such as a huge earthquake in the Los Angeles region, there will undoubtedly be confusion and chaos for a protracted period. Using freshly collected imagery, corroborated with research of social media, news and technical sources, the MIS analysts will be able to circumvent much of the confusing reporting to gain an in-depth understanding of the situation on the ground. An event on this scale would warrant continued collection from remote sources and thus provide MIS with constant and regular material with which to analyse. The example displayed in this section, demonstrates the initial response, 12-24 hours after a fictitious magnitude 8.0 earthquake in the summer of 2017 and its effect on Los Angeles International Airport. It would be the first of a series of reports detailing the exact situation on the ground. Subsequent reporting would develop situational awareness of the emerging crisis. Reporting covers specific client directed features, focusing on the physical impact to the feature and would include an assessment on the wider implications of the damage.
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Earthquake Long Look
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
This report seeks to address key findings in response to the 8.0 Magnitude earthquake and ongoing aftershocks emanating from the San Andreas Fault in Southern California. With a reported earthquake epicentre in the foothills of the Santa Monica Hills, a mere 25 miles from Downtown Los Angeles (LA) and approximately 50 miles north-east of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), state of emergency protocols are extant across the wider LA basin. Associated Press reporting and social media feeds continue to confirm initial assessments of widespread light damage to complete destruction across the LA Basin and into the Southern Californian hinterland. Open source information from the neighbouring states of Nevada and Arizona confirm minimal to light damage has occurred to structures outside California.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Immediately preceding the earthquake, LAX was closed as a precaution to all incoming and outgoing civil and military air traffic for a period of four hours. During this period all incoming international aircraft were diverted to the regional international transportation hubs of Dallas/Fort Worth (Texas) and Phoenix (Arizona) or diverted to smaller international airports in Nevada,
Utah and Arizona. All incoming domestic flights were cancelled with flights in the air diverted. All outgoing domestic and international flights were suspended.
Localised light damage was caused across the whole LAX facility, impacting both airside and non-airside facilities. Of note, damage to a raised/elevated section of LAX’s installation road system has significantly impacted vehicular traffic to and from LAX. LAX is assessed to be operating at less than 50% pre-earthquake capacity at this time.
LAX suffered damage during the earthquake, affecting both air and ground operations as well as inflicting structural damage to buildings across the facility. The majority of the damage is assessed to have been caused directly by the earthquake and aftershocks, with only limited damage caused by the secondary earthquake effects. All of these elements will be dealt with in sub paragraphs below.
Post earthquake imagery highlights light to medium level structural damage caused by the large magnitude impacting on LAX’s ability to functionally operate for air and ground operations.
Ground Operations – Imagery highlights structural damage to a 50m long two-lane section of elevated four-lane ground transportation concourse; World Way. Imagery indicates that at least two spans of the elevated road have dropped onto the ground level road below.
These sections most likely collapsed due to significant damage to their shared supporting piers and columns. Approximately 90% of the dropped concrete road section has remained intact for both concrete span sections. Construction activity, with at least three heavy lift machines, was observed in this area on the imagery.
Although civilian vehicles are present on the remainder of the damaged road surrounding the collapsed section, the vast majority of World Way remains closed with a temporary road cordon formed by LAX police, service vehicles and barriers preventing vehicular access to structurally damaged areas. It is likely that all civilian vehicles observed within this cordon are damaged or were abandoned during the earthquake.
Large swathes of elevated roadways appear to remain cordoned off on the post earthquake imagery. Service vehicles and structural teams were observed in the vicinity of the majority of cordoned off sections. It is assessed once structural integrity of each section is established, the individual road sections will be re-opened or cordons set in place to enable traffic to flow around these areas. LAX police patrol vehicles and temporary barriers appear to channel vehicular traffic. The majority of traffic consists of LAX buses, suggesting a restriction on private traffic to and from LAX. Further credence of this assessment is added by the increased volume in private vehicles in long term car park areas, police cordons and significantly raised number of buses in the LAX metro station.
Air Operations – Open source media and social reporting confirms that LAX has re-established air operations, albeit at a reduced level since the earthquake, with many domestic flights cancelled. Imagery highlights damage to two key elements airside, namely the FedEx freight facility and LAX airside equipment open storage yard and more importantly to the threshold of runway 06L/24R.
The FedEx freight distribution facility has suffered very minor damage to at least one steel framed building, with several panels missing, but the vast majority of the damage is to the palletised freight and open storage area. Imagery indicates that the shock force of the earthquake has ruptured approximately 30% of the concrete apron, which in turn has lead to the upturning of the freight pallets from their transportation dollies. It appears that approximately 35% of this facility is structurally damaged. Nevertheless, the overall facility remains functionally operational. At least two military transportation aircraft where located on the FedEx parking apron.
Earthquake shock damage has ruptured the threshold and a 50 m x 60 m section of runway one of the four runways, 06L/24R, rendering the runway less than 5% structurally damaged, but functionally 100% unserviceable at this time. Imagery confirms associated press reporting that the runway is under repair with heavy plant equipment and construction vehicles in place. Of note, the serviceable portion of 06L/24R is being utilised as a parking apron by several USAF and/or National Guard military helicopters and transport aircraft. Furthermore, imagery confirms that co-located runway 06R/24L is non-operational for civilian aircraft and is currently being used solely by the military and emergency services.
Despite a reported four to five metre high tsunami, low lying LAX and its main four runways and terminal infrastructure located at 37m – 39m above mean sea level (AMSL) remained protected from tsunami flood waters. This was largely due to the body of higher terrain to the west of the airport perimeter. This body of 80m (AMSL) high dense scrubland separating LAX from the Pacific Ocean acted as both a natural barrier to the water and enabled the flood waters to disperse and lose kinetic power as tsunami flood water soaked into the scrubland barrier.
Californian federal data indicated that land liquefaction did not pose a direct or indirect threat to any element of the LAX installation or any facilities within. This data was confirmed following the earthquake as no structural or functional damage to either air operations or ground movement as a result of the effects of liquefaction was sustained.
Federal data indicated that the threat of landslide did not pose a direct or indirect threat to any element of the LAX installation or any facilities within. This data proved to be correct. However, a series of landslides struck on the immediate western perimeter of LAX, where the scrubland separates the airport from the shoreline. It remains undetermined if these landslides were triggered directly by the earthquake or aftershock, the effect of the tsunami or a combination of all events.
Ground Operations – Imagery shows the landslide covers an area approximately 900m x 60m with debris spreading partially over a four lane LAX perimeter road, Pershing Drive. The earthen debris renders the southbound two lanes of Pershing Drive unserviceable to all traffic.
However, road surface damage cannot be ascertained until the earthen debris is removed. The northbound lanes appear fully serviceable with the carriageway assessed as fully functional and structurally intact. Consequentially, the road has a reduced operational capacity of 50% at this time.
Air Operations – Imagery indicates that a LAX navigation aid (Very High Frequency Omni Directional Radio Range (VOR)) is less than 20m from an area of landslide. Change detection imagery techniques suggest that the VOR remains completely undamaged. LAX associated service/repair vehicles, in addition to heavy earth clearing equipment, were noted on the post earthquake imagery within the vicinity of the VOR. This observed activity is most likely LAX engineering teams confirming the continued operational status of the VOR. The fully operational status of the VOR with no structural damage was further confirmed in associated press reporting by LAX representatives and the recommencement of air operations.
MIS recommend commissioning very high resolution imagery collections and/or UAV over flight every 24 hours. This will enable MIS to fuse historic and recent imagery with open source information and undertake change detection imagery comparisons to provide follow on reporting.
The area of the Port of Long Beach has been chosen as it represents a real risk from significant impact from liquefaction and tsunami. This Deep Look product displays a daily count of car stock waiting to be moved off shore into supply chains. If a catastrophic event took place we would have a near immediate ability to determine expected loss. Data can be viewed on line in either a graphic or as a downloadable file.
*this data set is hypothetical
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