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Neotectonics of the northern Mojave Desert

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Advancing science through field mapping (illustrated): Discoveries and questions generated by one method of mapping help the direction of new research objectives. The diagram below shows how the combination of aeromagnetic mapping and surficial geologic mapping was used to determine how fault-bounded blocks of the earth's crust in the Mojave Desert have behaved (slipped and rotated) in relation to the larger scale forces associated with plate tectonics shaping the western margin of the North American continent. Observations derived in one location drive the need for investigations in other areas to test advancing hypotheses. For instance, in this case illustrated below, determination of fault motion based on surficial geology and aeromagnetic data suggest that a possible unknown sediment-filled basin may exist near the intersection of two active faults. Scientists can then go out with gravity measuring instruments to determine whether a predicted basin occurs in the location, or whether they will need to modify their initial interpretations and seek other sources of data.

Fault offset reconstruction map based on bedrock geology and geophysics for part of the Mojave Desert region of California

graphic provided by Kevin Schmidt

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