A new crack has appeared near a fissure that already has closed a runway on the dry lake bed surface of this Mojave Desert military base, the site of most space shuttle landings.

The cracks are believed the result of settling caused by the pumping of groundwater during California's five-year drought.Officials say the new crack, about 100 feet west of the big crack, is tiny so far.

"It was just about an inch wide, but it's running parallel to the big crack and looks like the same kind," Lt. Col. Gary Kratochvil, an Army geologist, said Thursday.

Officials thought this week's rain might help close the larger crack in the Rogers Dry Lake Bed by restoring moisture to underlying soil layers.

But the rain didn't help because the rift apparently is as deep as 40 feet, planning engineer Larry Plews said.

The runway on which the cracks appear is not used for space shuttle landings, Plews said.