A Tear in the Mojave

August 1, 2019

A series of powerful earthquakes tore and shifted the sandy Earth of California’s Mojave Desert in early July.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck near Ridgecrest, California, on July 4, followed a day later by a 7.1-magnitude quake to the north.

The second event created a surface rupture 30 miles long that cut through Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, a 1-million-acre military installation.

Sentinel-2B images show not only the rupture, but movement of the land itself. The ground west of the epicenter moves slightly northwest as the eastern side moves in the opposite direction. The pattern aligns with a radar analysis from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory estimating that each side of the fault had shifted two feet or more from its original position. a shift of two feet or more on either side of the fault line.

Government and commercial satellite data will be used by the USGS and other agencies as they work to fully assess the impact of the California earthquake sequence.

Sources: Landsat 8, Sentinel-2B