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Contact Mary A. Hardin

HOLD FOR RELEASE      October 27, 1992

       Geologists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Louisiana State University have discovered previously unknown earthquake faults in California's northeastern Mojave Desert by analyzing remote sensing images at optical, infrared and radar wavelengths.

       In a paper presented today (Oct. 27) at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Cincinnati, JPL's Dr. John Ford outlined how spaceborne imaging technology has helped scientists find these newly observed faults, many of which are located within Fort Irwin, Calif., an active military training area. Analysis of the remote sensing images, combined with field observations and earthquake information, indicates that the area is crossed by many young faults. These faults are part of the same system that produced the magnitude 7.5 earthquake that occurred June 28, 1992 at Landers, Calif. The faults are visible on computer processed images taken by the Thematic Mapper (TM) instrument on Landsat 5 which obtains images simultaneously in seven bands at optical and infrared wavelengths. Corresponding images from the French SPOT satellite and synthetic aperture radar images of the area, confirmed the existence of the faults. Scientists say this study will lead to better understanding of how the entire system of faults works in southern California. In addition to Ford, the research is being conducted by geologists Dr. Robert E. Crippen of JPL and Prof. Roy K. Dokka of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

       The project is funded by the Solid Earth Branch of NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications, Washington, D.C. Support and safety control of the field investigations were provided by the U.S. Army at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin.