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Monday, 01 May 2006

The San Andreas Fault - Page 3

Written by Dr. Ronald Francis
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The Fault is a dividing line that separates one part of California that is sliding northward from the other part that is sliding southward. If you have one foot on one side of the fault and the other foot on the other side then your body would begin to twist a little bit as the two tectonic plates of the earth slide by each other.

 

faultline
US Geological Survey Image
I walked along the path designated to learn about the fault zone and was wondering if there would be a clear section where the earth had been shifted and so you could see the earth just broken up along this line. I walked with my friend along the path and eventually we came to a little sign that explained that there had been a major earthquake in 1906 in San Francisco and that the earth had slid by as much as 5 or 6 meters! This was devastating for the city even if it was interesting for geologists.

 

The sign explained that we were standing next to two pieces of a fence that had run perpendicularly across the fault line. One section of the fence was shifted by about 4 meters or so from another section. The fence was basically broken in two. I stayed there for a while trying to see if there were patterns in the land, like pieces of a puzzle that had been shifted, giving more evidence of the earthquake. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any so had to make do with the fence.

 

There are other places along the fault line where one can see clear movements of the earth even over a period of ten to twenty years: streets that have lines down the middle of the road that have been shifted a few inches to even a foot over a decade or so of slow movement. These shifts are best seen in cities farther south of San Francisco.

 

If you have a question for our resident physicist about any natural wonder please send your question along with a couple of pictures (.jpg) of the place to submissions [at] intravelmag [dot] com.


© Dr. Ronald Francis

 

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