The San Andreas Fault and Its Role in Plate Tectonics and Earthquake Prediction

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The San Andreas Fault and its role in Plate Tectonics and Earthquake Prediction

The San Andreas Fault is one of the most widely studied faults in the world. Scientists use an array of methods in collecting data and providing analysis of fault characteristics both past and present. Presently there are many differing hypothesis and models used to describe crustal movements and deformation within the Pacific and North American plate boundary. Historical earthquakes along this fault have proven to be rather large and devastating. This is important since the San Andreas Fault runs along many highly populated areas throughout Northern and Southern California. Through further research and analysis of this fault system scientists hope to solve the some of the unknowns of plate tectonics and better predict when and where an earthquake will take place.

Introduction
The San Andreas Fault is a strike-slip fault located on the boundary of two tectonic plates in the Earth’s lithosphere; the Pacific plate on the West and North American plate on the East. This intricate fault system contains a network of faults extending from Northern to Southern California. It is one of the most accessible and widely studied faults in the world. One of the distinct characteristics of the fault is the contrast of rock types on either side, brought together from long distances by millions years of movement. This movement generates several thousand earthquakes annually. By analyzing past and present day movements and configurations of the San Andreas Fault scientists hope to better understand the faults role in plate tectonics and unlock the key to earthquake prediction.
Geographic and Physical Location
The San Andreas Fault extends some 1,100 kilometers almost the entire length of California from Eureka to Brawley (Figure 1). The fault is the boundary between the North American and Pacific lithospheric plates. The fault is broken into the following segments: * Northern Segment - Extends



References: Cited Cohen, Philip, Inside the San Andreas. (San Andreas Fault, California), New Scientist, February 17, 1996, pp 24 (4) Dair, Laura, San Andreas Fault geometry through the San Gregorio Pass, California, Geology, (37)2, 119, 2009 Powell, Robert E., R.J. Weldon II, and Matti, Jonathon C. (1993), The San Andreas Fault System: displacement The San Andreas fault system: displacement, palinspastic reconstruction, and geologic evolution, Geological Society of America Wdowindki, Shimon, Diffuse interseismic deformation across the Pacific-North America plate boundary, Geology, (35)4, 311, 2007 Yule, Doug, The enigmatic San Gorgonio Pass, Geology, (37)2, 119, 2009 Grover, Ronald, Palmeri, Christopher, Lee, Louise, Javers, Eamon, The Day California Cracks, BusinessWeek;, Issue 3851, p38-40, 9/19/2005,

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