San Andreas Fault Through Carrizo Plain

June 26, 2003


Provided and copyright by: Kathy Surpless, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
Summary authors & editors: Kathy Surpless; Martin Ruzek

The San Andreas fault cuts spectacularly across the Carrizo Plain of California in this view looking to the northwest toward Soda Lake (white salt flat visible on the horizon). Streams draining off the Temblor Range to the east (lower right of picture) are offset to the north by right-lateral strike-slip fault motion along the San Andreas. The San Andreas marks the boundary betwen the Pacific Plate to the west and the North American Plate to the east, and is among the most active fault systems in the world. Geologists believe that the total accumulated displacement from earthquakes and creep is at least 550 kilometers along the San Andreas fault since it came into being about 15-20 million years ago. The entire San Andreas fault system is more than 1300 kilometers long and extends to depths of at least 16 kilometers within the Earth. In detail, the fault is a complex zone of crushed and broken rock from a few hundred meters to several kilometers wide. Many smaller faults branch from and join the San Andreas fault zone.

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