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Neotectonics of the northern Mojave Desert

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Three pictures showing recent fault scarps and damage to a building caused by the Hector Mine Earthquake in Southern California

The importance of geologic mapping research: With our ever expanding population, urban areas and supporting infrastructure are expanding into lands that are prone to natural hazards. The Mojave Desert is a region that is prone to large, damaging earthquakes as illustrated by these photographs of fault scarps and damage following the Hector Mine Earthquake of 1999. And Although, the Mojave Desert is not only a region with a limited water supply, infrequent and intense storms can cause catastrophic flash floods. Changing climate conditions, introduction of non-native plant species, and other human-related activities are causing unmeasured changes in the ecosystems, and impact the amount of dust and toxins (both natural and manmade) that impact regional air quality and possibly increase potential for wildfire hazards. These issues validate the need for both scientific mapping and investigation to help regional planners and stakeholders make critical decisions about safe and economic land use and resource protection.
graphic provided by Dave Miller

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