Image of the Week - A Tear in the Mojave

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Detailed Description

Satellite imagery shows the rupture and shifting of land near Ridgecrest, CA from the July 2019 earthquakes.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:01:00

Location Taken: Ridgecrest, CA, US

Video Credits

Writing & Voiceover:
John Hult

Katherine Kendrick, Ryan Gold, Ken Hudnut, Ben Brooks



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, CA on July 4th, followed a day later by a magnitude 7.1 quake to the north. The second event created a surface rupture 30 miles long that cut through Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, a one 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 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.

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