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San Andreas Fault

San Andreas Fault History Social Studies STEM Geography

This aerial view depicts the San Andreas as it slices through the Carrizo Plain.  

The location of this particular view of the fault, in California, is in the Temblor Range (east of San Luis Obispo). 

The San Andreas is a "transform fault."  This type of fault is more typically found on the ocean floor.  

The U.S. Geological Survey tells us more about the nature of the San Andreas:

The zone between two plates sliding horizontally past one another is called a transform-fault boundary, or simply a transform boundary

The concept of transform faults originated with Canadian geophysicist J. Tuzo Wilson, who proposed that these large faults or fracture zones connect two spreading centers (divergent plate boundaries) or, less commonly, trenches (convergent plate boundaries). 

Most transform faults are found on the ocean floor. They commonly offset the active spreading ridges, producing zig-zag plate margins, and are generally defined by shallow earthquakes. 

However, a few occur on land, for example the San Andreas fault zone in California. This transform fault connects the East Pacific Rise, a divergent boundary to the south, with the South Gorda -- Juan de Fuca -- Explorer Ridge, another divergent boundary to the north.

Click on the image for an even-better view of this famous fault line. 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5139stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Dec 17, 2017


Media Credits

Photograph of the San Andreas Fault by Robert E. Wallace, for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  Image online, courtesy USGS.  PD

 

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