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Earthquakes rattle Naval weapons development base in the Mojave Desert

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (NASA/WikiCommons)

A series of earthquakes was detected in and around a Navy base where new weapons are developed and tested.

The Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake experienced tremors from Thursday afternoon through 3:30 a.m. Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A handful of the quakes registered a 2.5 on the Richter scale, but none topped a 3.1 seismic reading.

A 7.1 earthquake rocked the base on July 6, according to the Sacramento Bee. The CBC reports that a quake above a 7 is categorized as “major.” The ones that hit China Lake rated between light and minor, meaning the weaker ones would have been detected on a seismograph, but probably went undetected by the sailors on base.

The isolated military station, where the Navy’s newest technology is tested, is “deep” in the southeast California desert outside Death Valley National Park. The massive high-tech site was opened in 1943 and sits 150 miles north of Los Angeles. It occupies more land than Rhode Island.

In 1950, the Sidewinder missile was developed at China Lake. That rocket is considered one of the world’s most effective air-to-air missiles.


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