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The earthquake that ripped through Christchurch last month has been illustrated with new radar imagery.

The magnitude-6.3 tremor killed more than 160 people and shattered a city. Now, the way the ground deformed during the most recent quake has been mapped, using data from Japanese spacecraft, showing the epicentre of the quake struck at the heart of the city's south-eastern suburbs.

The type of image displayed on this page is known as a synthetic aperture radar inteferogram. It is made by combining a sequence of radar images acquired by an orbiting satellite "before" and "after" a quake.

The coloured bands, or fringes, represent movement towards or away from the spacecraft.

"It's like a contour map but it's showing to the south-east of Christchurch that the ground motion is towards Alos. That's uplift," explained Dr John Elliott from the Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes and Tectonics (Comet) at Oxford University, UK.

"And then right under Christchurch, we see subsidence. That's partly due to liquefaction but it's mainly due to the way the Earth deforms when you snap it like an elastic band."

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key has confirmed 10,000 homes in Christchurch cannot be rebuilt and that the quake recovery effort will cost the country NZ$15bn ($7bn).

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