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San Andreas is a lazy fault at its big bend

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posted on Apr, 13 2013 @ 05:09 PM
According to an article in Science Daily, the San Andreas and other faults with "bends" exhibit a slow propensity of making efficient work arounds for accommodating motion at fault bends. Could this explain the relative quiet in the area south of the San Andreas fault's big bend? San Andreas may be very slowly crunching away at a workaround for the big bend.

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.


These findings may explain why the hypothesis that the faulting region in the East California Shear Zone should be accommodating more of the plate motion between North American Plate and the Pacific Plate has not yet come to fruition and also may explain why the main area for accommodating plate motion may move east in a few thousand more years.


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