Map showing areas of visible land disturbances caused by two military training operations in the Mojave Desert, California

Miscellaneous Field Studies Map 1855



This map shows areas that retain visible land disturbances produced during two military armored-vehicle training operations in the Mojave Desert, California. The map documents the lasting visual effects these operations have on this arid region and provides a data base for monitoring changes in the extent of visual disturbances in the future.

The first training operation was initiated in April 1942, by General George S. Patton, Jr., to ready armored-vehicle divisions for desert warfare in North Africa (Meller, 1946). The Desert Training Center (DTC) encompassed 17,500 mi2 of arid lands in California, Nevada, and Arizona, and for two years, more than one million soldiers trained under simulated battle conditions. Troops were stationed at 12 main base camps, each housing as many as 15,000 soldiers in canvas tents. From these camps, armored units would radiate into the broad valleys of the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. Thousands of tanks, trucks, jeeps, and aircraft were used in the war games. When the DTC was inactivated in May 1944, most man-made structures were removed or buried by the U.S. Army.

The second operation, called Operation Desert Strike, was held for two weeks in May 1964 (Moenk, 1964) in the same general area as the DTC. However, no temporary camps were established, and the tanks used were much larger than their World War II counterparts. Over 89,000 troops participated in this exercise.

Land disturbances caused by these training exercises are still evident today throughout the designated training areas (Lathrop, 1983; Prose, 1985; Prose and Metzger, 1985). The World War II base-camp locations are easily identified because the networks of dirt roads are still used by campers, hunters, artifact seekers, and other visitors. Vehicle trails and single tracks remain on many relatively stable surfaces and are most conspicuous on surfaces composed of a veneer of stones (desert pavement).

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Map showing areas of visible land disturbances caused by two military training operations in the Mojave Desert, California
Series title Miscellaneous Field Studies Map
Series number 1855
DOI 10.3133/mf1855
Year Published 1986
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Description Plate: 29.51 x 43.22 inches
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Mojave Desert
Scale 0
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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