It’s Not My Fault!

 “Water is clearly vital for life. What is perhaps more surprising is that water plays a crucial role in lubricating the motion of plates – without it there would be no plate techtonics. So water quickens life and the Earth itself.” – David Singleton 

Source: Earth Story: The Shaping of Our World

It's Not My Fault!

Understanding Faults
The earth’s crust is not one piece. There are plates, called tectonic plates, that sit next to one another like pieces in a puzzle. These plates bump against each other, sometimes causing cracks we call faults. Faults and mountain ranges are often found together, as the mountains were formed by edges of faults slipping past one another. There are also faults beneath the oceans.

A fault is a fracture (crack or break) in the earth’s outer layer (crust) in which the edges have moved up, down, or sideways. It is like two puzzle pieces that no longer fit together smoothly. As the broken edges press against one another energy is stored up. When the edges finally move, that energy is released as an earthquake.

Think of moving a heavy chest of drawers across a floor. You push harder and harder, storing energy, until the dresser finally slides over the floor, then stops as the energy is used up. Then you have to push a gain to cause more movement.

Tectonic Plates

Dip-Slip Faults

On a dip-slip fault, the rock planes move against one another mostly vertically. The two types of dip-slip faults are the normal (also called normal-slip fault, tensional fault or gravity fault) and the reverse (also called thrust fault, reverse-slip fault or compressional fault.) In a normal fault, the footwall of crust moves up over the hanging wall. In the reverse fault, the footwall moves down.

Dip-Slip Fault

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley

Normal fault in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley.

Reverse fault

Reverse Fault

The Rocky Mountains are part of a dip-slip fault

The Rocky Mountains are part of a dip-slip fault.

Strike-Slip Fault
Along a strike-slip fault, the rock planes move mostly horizontally (laterally or sideways.) One plate moves right or left, rubbing against the other plate. The San Andreas Fault in California and the Anatolian Fault in Turkey are two well-known examples of this type of fault. Other names for this type of fault are: transcurrent fault, lateral fault, tear fault or wrench fault.

Strike-Slip Fault

The San Andreas Fault in California

The San Andreas Fault in California

Piqiang Fault

The Piqiang Fault is a prominent strike-slip fault in the Keping Shan Thrust Belt in the NW Tarim Basin, China

Oblique-Slip Fault
The oblique fault has both horizontal (strike-slip) and vertical (dip-slip) movements that are measurable. Most faults have both types of movement, but one is much greater than the other. The oblique fault has significant movement in both directions.

Olbique Slip

Learn More
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