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The United States Geological Survey plans to simulate and study small earthquakes in the desert this week using explosives and seismographs.
For the Salton Seismic Imaging Project, officials will bury 3,000 seismographs around the Coachella and Imperial valleys and measure the impact of the explosions, which will simulate 1.5- to 2-magnitude earthquakes.
Knowing the configuration of buried faults is crucial to understanding how the earthquake-producing "machinery" works in southern California, and information on the thickness and shape of the region's sedimentary basins (large valleys filled with sedimentary deposits) is essential for predicting how hard the ground will shake in future quakes.