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For example, a straight fault is more efficient at accommodating strain than a bumpy fault. For this reason Cooke is very interested in how the efficiency of fault bends evolves with increasing deformation.
Her data suggest that at restraining bends, the crust behaves in accord with "work minimization" principles, an idea she dubs the "Lazy Earth" hypothesis. "Our approach offers some of the first system-type evidence of how faults evolve around restraining bends,"
The observation that a fault's active zone can shift location significantly over 10,000 years is very revealing, Cooke says, and has important implications for understanding seismic hazards. The more geologists understand fault development, the better they may be able to predict earthquake hazards and understand Earth's evolution, she points out.